Dressen speaks on learning, serving and playing during retirement party

(Photo by Ethan Groothuis)

Colleagues and community members gathered May 3 to honor the career of soon-to-be-retiring Superintendent Ric Dressen.
A celebration and farewell, held at the Braemar Golf Course, had it all, including a marching band, shared stories, hors d’oeuvres and, of course, tears.
“This is the part where the superintendent gets sappy,” Dressen said. “I’m here to announce today that I have a disorder I need to make public. TDTCTH: tear ducts too close to the heart.”
Edina School Boardmember Randy Meyer recalled Dressen’s “strong sense of caring and compassion,” as well as highlighting the skills he soon became known for after starting in 2006.
“He was big on training and mentoring,” Meyer said. “Recruitment is not a huge part of the education system in a significant way. But he worked so hard … and was actively recruiting the best.”
Noting the thorns in their side that Dressen and the school board walked through together, including falling ceiling tiles, the Jenga-eqsue situation at the bus garage, and the tough choices around the reductions in the operating budget by $8 million during Dressen’s tenure, Meyer said Dressen excelled at making informed decisions.
“Ric helped us get through two operating referendums, a technology referendum and a bond referendum,” Meyer said. “Each one required a minimum of 50 presentations. Ric excelled at that.”
Meyer closed with reading from the 2006 leadership assessment when the board was considering Dressen for the superintendent position.
“Dr. Dressen will likely improve the Edina district by bringing closer alignment and … will attempt to foster a common culture for both children and adults.” Meyer said.
After receiving a gift (a portrait of his old office), it was Dressen’s turn to chop proverbial onions for the gathering.
“I love the world of education because you never have to grow up,” Dressen said. “I got to be a kid my whole life – and that is what education is about.”
Dressen summed up the joy of his job in learning every day from others, whether it be
students, teachers, colleagues and parents, serving others and being able to play.
He said that those three things were rooted in him through his whole life from his parents and family members, and he was proud to bring that forth as a community leader.
“I don’t know a community in [Minnesota] that knows how to play more than Edina,” Dressen said. “This is about arts, athletics, academics. It is about leadership. This community knows how to play together. This community is about learning – we understand how important learning is and how important learning is to young people. Have hopes and dreams, and they are going to happen because of this community. And it is such a joy to work in an environment like that.”
Dressen said that the greatest strength of the Edina community is the call to serve others, and that in neighborhoods, school and faith settings, the
community can be one by understanding its shared purpose.
Dressen finished with a challenge for the community in a world that is “way too serious.”
“The world is getting more diverse and dynamic,” Dressen said. “We have a lot to learn, so let’s keep learning. Let us serve our community … and each and every day, I ask that we play.”