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New administrators are eager to get started

Rosemount Middle School's new assistant principal knows his way around the building. The new athletic director knows a thing or two about winning sports program. Both say they're excited to get kids into the building and get the school year under way.

Eric Hansen steps in this year as the school's assistant principal. He replaces John Price, who retired Aug. 1. Hansen has been in the school since the beginning of summer, but he was familiar with RMS and the Rosemount community long before he walked through the door. Hansen grew up in District 196 and went to St. Joseph School for first through fifth grades. He spent his sixth grade year at Rosemount Middle School before moving on to Dakota Hills Middle School and Eagan High School.

Price was one of Hansen's teachers during Hansen's sixth-grade year.

"It's interesting. Things have changed a lot, yet some things are the same. Some additions have been done since I've been here but (it is) a very different role from a student to administrator."

Schafer's first teaching job after college was at Apple Valley High School. He spent 17 years teaching math at the school. He also served as head assistant coach for the perennially powerful AVHS wrestling team. He got into education in part because of his athletic background. He liked math, he said, and he liked working with kids as a coach.

"I never explored anything else, really," he said. "I just fell into a great career."

Hansen said good experiences with his own teachers led him to a career in education.

Neither Hansen nor Schafer started in ISD 196 as middle school teachers. Hansen taught at Shannon Park Elementary School before taking the athletic director/assistant administrator job at Falcon Ridge Middle School a few years ago.

Making the move to middle school can be a big adjustment but Hansen said he likes the environment. "The part that draws me and the part that excites me is the pace," he said. "There's a lot of energy in the middle school and the kids are changing and it's fun to be around that pace and to kind of keep up with what's happening."

Schafer has yet to work a day at RMS with a full compliment of students in the building but he said much the same as Hansen.

"I think dealing with middle school kids will be a lot of fun and I think I can make a difference and maybe a good impression on the kids," he said. "At the high school level kids have found their direction. I think middle school, it's wide open and I think the middle school needs administrators that are caring, ones that are there. Ones that want to gain relationships with students.

"I think the energy level and what you can do with kids are exciting."

Schafer's first official day at RMS was Aug. 7. Hansen spent the summer helping principal Mary Thompson with hiring decisions. He met with elementary school principals and led a diversity workshop. He worked with Thompson to hire Schafer.

Hansen was around for summer school classes but neither of the new administrators has seen the halls full at RMS. Both say they're looking forward to the start of the new school year Sept. 2.

There's a lot to do between now and then. On Aug. 7 there were cables hanging from the ceiling as crews completed a project. There are finishing touches to put on before the school is ready for students. Schafer has to find field space for the large number of students out for sports this fall. Because RMS has more students competing than any of the other ISD 196 middle schools he hopes to find a couple of other schools for RMS students to compete against.

Whatever comes next, both Hansen and Schafer already feel like they're at home.

"I live in the area. My kids will come to Rosemount Elementary and Rosemount Middle School. That excites me," said Hansen, who has a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. "I'm excited that all of our middle school students that come here go to Rosemount High School. It's nice to have that camaraderie.

"I like that small-town feel we have here. That sense of community."

"It'll be a rush," Schafer said. "It'll be new for me but it'll be fun."