Tryggestad returns to arts education

By Gina Purcell
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Curt Tryggestad is only days into his new role as Perpich Center for Arts Education’s executive director, but he is already looking forward to fulfilling the promise of what Perpich is, an arts education resource for all of Minnesota.

“(We want to) help lift the arts and make sure we can support the teachers and kids and administrators everywhere,” he said.

Tryggestad was hired shortly after Gov. Mark Dayton’s May veto of a bill that aimed to abolish the government-created school due to a negative auditor’s report.

“In general, schools need to be held accountable,” Tryggestad said. “We have to be transparent in what we do. We need to use best practices. The legislative auditor’s report was very thorough. It gave good direction.”

Tryggestad said many of the report’s recommendations have been implemented or are in the planning phases for implementation.

“The board has done a good job taking that on,” he said. “My hope is that we use good common sense, be consistent, be transparent and provide the services that the legislature and the statute say we need to provide. We need to do the right thing.”

Tryggestad, of Eden Prairie, has a long history with music, his favorite form of art.

His mother was a piano teacher and his father sang in quartets. Tryggestad plays the tuba and string bass. He also sang in choir throughout his schooling and participated in musical theater.

After high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Luther College in Iowa, a master’s degree in music with a conducting emphasis from St. Cloud State University, completed a sixth year degree to earn his principal and superintendent licenses from Winona State University and finished his doctorate in educational leadership at St. Cloud State.

He worked for 16 years as a band director in Hinckley and Biroqua, Wisconsin, where he grew up.

He served as principal of Pine City High School for six years, and was superintendent for three years in Esko and six years in Little Falls, and most recently, five years in Eden Prairie.

Then, the opening at Perpich sparked his interest.

“It’s a little full circle for me to come back and be in an arts organization since that’s where I started my career,” he said.

Tryggestad said he used Perpich’s services when he was a teacher and administrator at the other schools over the years.

“I saw it in action,” he said. “I was in a place in my career where I had the ability to come here and hopefully make a difference.”