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The Doctor is IN.

Q & A with PLHS principal, Dr. John Bezek

Caleb Gilbertson, Contributor

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Early in November, I sat down for a Q & A with Dr. Bezek, Prior Lake High School’s new principal.  Here’s what I found out —

GILBERTSON: Okay, so, what made you want to get into school administration?


BEZEK: Oh, from the beginning?




BEZEK: Oh, let’s see, you know I was a social studies teacher and a guidance counselor, and I just watched what those people [people in school administration] were doing, when I was a guidance counselor especially. You’re in the office and you’re… I was watching the assistant principals and I thought, “You know what? I could do that, and I could probably do a good job at that.” So I went and did that, and I was an assistant principal for six years. Then, you kind of watch what the principal does, and you kind of get tired of doing what you’re doing after about six years, and I thought, “You know what? I could do that.” So, I applied and became principal at Tartan High School. You just kind of have a rough idea of what you might want to do, but you never know. I never thought early on that that’s what I would do. I was just exposed to things and just went where the path took me, I guess.


GILBERTSON: So, why did you decide to work at PLHS?


BEZEK: You know, I was a high school principal for nine years and I went and tried the district office to see if I would like that. It was OK, but it wasn’t really… It missed the energy of being at a high school. For the last couple of years, I’ve kind of kept my eyes open and I’d been in an 1,800 student high school before so I thought, “I want to find another large metro high school that I could lead and be a part of.” When this [high school principal position at PLHS] popped open I said “That’s a nice place and I’m going to throw my hat in the ring there.” That’s how that came about.


GILBERTSON: What has your experience been like so far at PLHS?


BEZEK: It’s been a very positive experience so far. People had told me that coming in that there was a good, positive energy here in the building and the district, so I’ve been very impressed and pleased. It’s been enjoyable for me. I’ve been welcomed into the school. Just trying to meet people and get out there so people know who I am and what I stand for has been important. I want to fit in with the organization and continue to take it in the right direction.


GILBERTSON: Are you planning any big changes in the upcoming months or years here?


BEZEK: I wasn’t really brought in with the mandate that there’s anything here that really needs to be changed. We’ve got such a space issue here, so, I think it’s continuing to build on the opportunities that are here and ensuring that those things continue — finding areas that we can make improvements and push those pieces. I think one of our biggest challenges here is we’re a large high school, and we’re going to get larger.  So how do we meet those space needs and continue to keep kids involved?  It’s tough, you only have so many of certain activities, so we try to have a variety of activities so kids feel like they’re connected here. That’s probably the most important thing.


GILBERTSON: What do you think is the biggest threat to student’s learning at this school?


BEZEK: I think it would just be, [lack of] motivation and engagement. We need to engage kids because they can get turned off or get bored. That’s why we’re continuing to have teachers try to look at what they are doing because, back in the day when I was younger, you came in and teacher kind of contained all the knowledge and had all the information. Well, that’s not the case anymore. You can go out and if you’re interested in history, or you’re interested in a certain thing, you can go and research and get more information than anyone ever dreamed.  But how do you use that? How do you apply it? How do you use it to do something different and make things and all that? That’s the challenge


GILBERTSON: I think that kind of ties into this one, but what do you think the school could improve on the most


BEZEK: I think just continuing to reaching out and engaging kids. I think we need to make sure that we’re trying to move in the direction of project based learning, real world authentic learning for students so that they see value in what we’re doing here. I think that’s the biggest challenge for all schools is to remain relevant. As there’s more online options and other options for kids to go out and learn things, so what do we have to offer, why do people want to come here?


GILBERTSON: Just a few more here… What do you believe is most important for new students to do here to have a successful time here?


BEZEK: Find something you’re passionate about or have an interest in and run with it. Find some sort of connection other than just your classes. Classes are fine, but a lot of times it’s those extra things that make it exciting. You can find out who you are and what you like, so take a risk  


GILBERTSON: This is a question from a friend. Have you considered beanies as an exception to the hat policy at the school?


BEZEK: No, I have not. You should tell your friend to make an argument. I don’t see what the argument would be, but I am always open to try.


GILBERTSON: People say that hats obscure your face, but beanies don’t.


BEZEK: You know, I’ve heard that. That the whole reason we can’t wear hats is because it obscures your face, and for safety and security, you know. I don’t really buy that. My philosophy on that is we still have some kind of modecom of going to school being like going to work, and there’s still some community standards such as you take your hat off in a building and this and that. [The no hat policy] is still something we adhere to, and it kind of sets the stage for [timing].  You can have it on at Laker time, you can have it on before and after school, but when you’re in school, we’re kind of doing business. Because someone could poke holes in that identification argument by saying, “Well, that dang kid wears the same hat every day. If I see that hat on the video, I know just who that is.”

GILBERTSON: Lastly, is there anything you would like to add or clarify?


BEZEK: Just that I’m enjoying my time here, and looking forward to becoming more and more part of the school. First year, it feels like you’re going through everything the first time. After that, it becomes old hat, and you kind of start tweaking it and making improvements and recommendations. That’s all I’ve got.




BEZEK: Sounds good.


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