New principal eager to sign on

Bormann finds District 831 welcoming, positive


Lynn Bormann with kindergarten students from Withrow Elementary. Bormann, currently principal at Marine and Withrow elementary schools in the Stillwater District, will be the principal at Wyoming Elementary next year. (Photo by Mary Bailey)
Lynn Bormann with kindergarten students from Withrow Elementary. Bormann, currently principal at Marine and Withrow elementary schools in the Stillwater District, will be the principal at Wyoming Elementary next year. (Photo by Mary Bailey)

Mary Bailey
Community Editor

Lynn Bormann likes the small-town feel.

She remembers growing up in Foley, walking to the post office with her father, and every person they met would say, “Hi, Ron.”

“I asked him, ‘Does everybody in the whole town know who you are?’” she said.

She has come to value knowing people by name. “You can’t put a price tag on those relationships,” she said.

Bormann also embraces other ideals she learned in Foley.

“I’m proud of the small-town work ethic,” she said. “You don’t count hours. You don’t quantify the work that needs to be done.”

She gets a warm feeling of down-to-earth people loving what they do when she meets with District 831 staff. “People stay on in that district for a reason,” she said.

In Foley, a town of about 2,500 located northeast of St. Cloud, Bormann took swimming lessons at the outdoor municipal pool, starting at age 6. By age 17 — the youngest age possible — she was a swimming teacher.

Bormann attended the private St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville and the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, graduating in 1990. She continued working as a lifeguard and pool manager while a student.

“I left St. Scholastica all four years at the end of finals to go back to Foley to plan the pool schedules for the summer,” she said.

That experience helped her get her first teaching job, at Ogilvie, population 500. She was hired to be the fourth-grade teacher and aquatic director, even though the school had no pool at the time.

Plans were in the works to erect a new K-12 school building for Ogilvie, with a pool, and the district knew it would need someone to run the swim program.

By her second year there, the new building was ready. Bormann, working with the community education director (who was also a full-time second-grade teacher), built the aquatic program from scratch.

“I created job descriptions, hired and trained life guards and cashiers, created handbooks and taught swimming lessons,” she said.

She spent 12 years teaching fourth grade in Ogilvie, and 11 of those years with the aquatic program, watching her former students in the classroom become her lifeguard trainees.

“The first thing they said was, ‘Remember how much fun we had in social studies?’” she said. “When you’re in a district long enough to make a positive impact, you feel like you’ve really made a contribution. Those positive comments are what inspire you to continue working with kids.”

Bormann continued her education while teaching and by 1993 had a master’s degree in K-12 education.

“I had no intention of acquiring a master’s so soon,” she said, but some colleagues invited her to team up and do it together. “Looking back, I’m glad I had that extra level of expertise, to grow faster professionally.”

The three fourth-grade teachers at Ogilvie decided to departmentalize, and Bormann taught social studies to all three sections.

Her pupils did monthlong studies of Mexico, Australia, Minnesota, covering different cultures around the world.

In February, Black History month, they learned about Africa. This unit included some home video.

“I traveled to Africa and Europe in the summer of 2000,” she said, “and a friend with a camcorder took live footage of us walking with a Masai warrior to his village. We’d find gazelle horns, hold them to our heads, click horns.”

A five-day German unit that she developed is still remembered by her Ogilvie students. At St. John’s Prep, Bormann had taken three years of German from Emmerich Sack, a native German speaker from Melk, Austria.

Her fourth-grade class put on a play in German with five roles, repeating it five times to include every student. Years later, she encountered a former student who was now in college. The student recognized her and said, “Remember that cool German unit? I learned more in that unit than in some of my college classes.”

Bormann enforced rules for studying different cultures. “We’re not going to use words like ‘weird’ or ‘strange,’” she told her students. “We use ‘unique’ and ‘different.’ You are blessed to live in the U.S. Not all children have the same opportunities.”

Bormann said she loved teaching, but when she became a principal (at a private school in Faribault), her focus shifted to taking care of the teachers.

She felt more comfortable working in public schools, she said, and spent the next five years as the elementary principal at the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton District near Moorhead.

To get closer to her family, she then moved to the Stillwater District, where she worked for five years. She is the principal of two elementary schools, in Withrow and Marine. Both are “one-section” schools (one teacher per grade), and the total number of students is about 300.

At Wyoming Elementary next year, Bormann will be responsible for 640 students, with three or four sections per grade.

She looks forward to being able to focus on one school, no longer splitting her time and having to sometimes deal with situations from a distance.

“The challenging part is I like to do things 100 percent,” she said. “I like to go in depth and dig in.”

At Wyoming, she can be present at all times. “I really embrace the opportunity to be able to really focus, to get to know people,” she said.

She also will be even closer to her family in Foley.

A St. John’s University football fan, Bormann had uncles who played in the ‘50s and ‘60s for coach John Gagliardi. She goes to all the games, she said, where “we have reserved seats with backs.” (SJU fans will understand how special those seats are.) She even has a Gagliardi bobblehead on her desk.

Bormann also enjoys card stamping, gardening, reading and walking. She has been married to her husband Peter for nine years.