Todd Brist

Todd Brist

Watertown Middle School
Watertown, SD

1. Name the key responsibilities in your current role
I use to think my job was about schedules, staffing, budgets and behavior; time and experience have taught me that my job as a principal is to “make good things happen for other people.” To me, it is my job to find a way to help teachers “engage young adolescents in meaningful educational experiences while helping them learn, grow, and develop into a knowledgeable, reflective, caring, ethical, and contributing citizens.” It is also my job to love the heck out of the kids so they can be successful academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally.

2. Describe either your professional preparation, experience or achievements
My professional preparation consists of a BSEd in secondary education (major–social sciences/minor–speech and drama) from Northern State University (Aberdeen, SD), a MSEd in educational leadership from Southwest State University (Marshall, MN), an EdS in educational administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato (Mankato, MN), and an EdD in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN). I taught civics, history, and AP Government in Albert Lea, MN and served as the high school principal in Crookston, MN. I was selected as the 2016 South Dakota Middle School Principal of the Year.

3. Describe the biggest challenge you’re currently facing in middle level education
The biggest challenge facing middle level education is the traditional split between elementary and secondary education. The social, emotional, behavioral, and academic development of the young adolescent is unique. Therefore, deserves its own place in the educational conversation. Unfortunately, middle level education is often lumped in with elementary or secondary leaving the middle level out of critical funding, research, debate, etc. From Congress and state legislatures to school boards and parents, we must communicate the unique development of the young adolescent and the significance of quality teaching and learning at the middle level.

4. Share what you do for fun when not in school
I am a bit of an education nerd, so school is fun to me! I spend a lot of time on Twitter, reading books and articles, and attending/presenting at conferences. I enjoy attending school and community activities throughout the year. I enjoy taking small day and weekend trips with family and friends. We typically do a bit of camping each summer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I also enjoy politics and watching Netflix/Hulu/Sling/Prime.

5. Tell us why you are a member of AMLE
I am a proud AMLE member because AMLE alone is “dedicated to improving the educational experience for all young adolescents.” Middle level education is different from any other level and AMLE’s mission and vision, along with the tenets of This We Believe, are a clear clarion call for “helping young adolescents succeed as learners and make positive contributions to their communities and to the world.”