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RHS Principal Pete Roback reflects on time with school district

Rosemount High School Principal Pete Roback stands in the newly-remodeled area of the school as he settles into his new role where he likes to find ways to connect with students and build relationships. Kara Hildreth / Contributor1 / 2
Rosemount High School students congregate in the new south commons area to work in casual spaces that promote collaborative learning on projects. Kara Hildreth / Contributor2 / 2

ROSEMOUNT — New Rosemount High School Principal Pete Roback works diligently to create relationships with the student body. If he had his way, Roback would spend many hours of his day in classrooms building relationships with the more than 2,350 students.

When he began his administrative role this school year, he admits he had a door with a window installed in his office. Most days he has both office doors open, and his standing desk allows him to move around easily and connect with staff and students.

Roback, 45, is not new to Rosemount, since he worked as a former principal at Falcon Ridge Middle School. He worked in special education for three years and as an assistant principal at RHS for 10 years.

"I love everything about our school community and more than just that, I love the Rosemount community," he said. "I really wanted to attack the building culture and that community, and we really play off that strong sense of community that Rosemount has."

Expected growth

Rosemount High School underwent a facelift this past year after a voter-approved bond levy passed three years ago. Funds supported secured school entrances, a new music space for the band program, a remodeled student commons area and a much needed reconfigured, redesigned parking lot.

"It is a beautiful space and we are just amazed at the space that has allowed our teachers to bring down their classrooms," he said.

Ninety-five percent of the building did not change even though 5 percent was transformed in a positive way, Roback said.

"As we continue to grow, and as our building continues to get older and our facilities continue to get older, we do need to bring attention to our facilities," Roback said. "This is a topic I love talking about because it is great to see what surrounding school districts have been able to do to upgrade facilities and buildings, and I think it is needed here because what we do inside these walls amazes me every day."

Sitting in on talks about a potential new city recreation center, Roback said Hastings is a great example of a community that built partnerships that led to a community field house and walking track.

"It (a rec center) might be a pipe dream but I think it would be supported here," Roback added.

New dynamic

"Social media has added this whole new dynamic to what we do as educators, and we put a very powerful thing in the hands of our students — an iPad," Roback said. "It is a huge responsibility for them to learn how to navigate time management and how to use the device and when not to."

Roback contends a quality of education comes back to relationships. Staff has been on the same page to work at implementing a core set of beliefs in the school's culture.

"If you are walking down the hallway and ask a kid what is Rosemount High School about? I would hope they would mention some of those core beliefs," he added. "We have an Irish Way value of the month so we believe in this way."

All the Rosemount schools from kindergarten through high school are taught to bring those values to life every single month, not only with students but adults as well, Roback said.

Global perspective

In 2013 Roback decided to make a leap of faith and move his family overseas to work as an administrator for the International School in Bangkok, Thailand.

"I was at a point in my career where I needed an adventure," Roback said. "These large, international schools all around the world share international baccalaureate and curriculum because a lot of these students follow where their mom or dad's job was being shifted to."

Many times, students live within wealthy families who may need to move around to schools every three years. They attend top schools in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Australia.

When asked what he learned in comparing educational methods, Roback said, "What I saw is we have a phenomenal school district, but it was really interesting to see we do not have all the answers."

"In Thailand I saw similarities with people who have shared values and are kind and helpful, and that includes those who have more," he said. "The Thai people were so kind and helpful and my family proved we could live on our own and take this adventure and thrive and really love what we did."

Coming back to Rosemount was rewarding since he lives here with his wife and children who attend schools in the district.

"I love this community and I think the people we have here make it a special place," he said. "We take a lot of pride since our school is over a 100 years old, but we cannot settle for the status quo — we have to move forward while still honoring the past."

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