There's no rocking chair on the front porch in John Sandeen's near future.
The former Minot High School-Magic City Campus head principal figured out pretty quickly after he retired in 2005 that he wasn't constitutionally suited to kicking back and relaxing.
"I discovered that retirement doesn't work for me," said the long-time educator, who just took over as administrator at Our Redeemer's Christian School. "I have to work."
Andrea Johnson/MDN •
Former Minot High School-Magic City Campus head principal John Sandeen works in his office in his new position as administrator at Our Redeemer’s Christian School.
Working hard is one of Sandeen's defining traits. He recalls that he went to boot camp soon after his high school graduation, went into the U.S. Marine Corps, served for a year in Vietnam, returned to help his father with the harvest and started college not long after that. He started out as a social studies teacher, taught for 20 years, and eventually moved over into high school administration.
After more than 30 years as an educator, Sandeen knew he wanted to do something a bit different when he retired.
He tried different jobs and has most recently been teaching a personal finance class to students at Quentin Burdick Job Center. Lessons in personal finance are essential for young people, he said.
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Some of them have never had a checking account," he said.
Then he learned about the opening at Our Redeemer's late this summer when former administrator Julie Smesrud decided to resign to take a teaching job in Granville.
Sandeen was familiar with the school since Sandeen's wife Cindy taught for many years at Our Redeemer's and Sandeen was on the trustee board there at one time. The couple also attends Our Redeemer's Church, so Sandeen was already familiar with the staff and the school. He can also be administrator at a private school without losing his retirement, though he'd run into some problems if he was administrator at a public school.
Sandeen said he learned so quickly about the principal opening that he had to take vacation time from Burdick Job Corps Center for his first few days on the job at Our Redeemer's Christian School. Sandeen said the staff and teachers at Our Redeemer's have been great about filling him on how things are usually done at the school and have asked him if that's the way he wants to continue doing them. The school has been well-run, said Sandeen, and he's never believed in changing how things are done just for the sake of changing them. He said he'll make changes only if he can think of a better way of doing something.
After 34 years of working with adolescents and young adults, Sandeen said he's also getting used to working with small children.
"This gives me an opportunity to work with a wider range of students," he said.
Little kids are different than the older students, said Sandeen. He's getting used to being greeted in the hallways with big smiles or hugs from some of the younger kids. Teenagers are a lot more inhibited, said Sandeen.
Sandeen said Our Redeemer's small size will make it easier for him to get to know the 277 students in preschool through the 12th grade than at Magic City Campus, where there were hundreds of students in each grade.
Another thing Sandeen enjoys about being administrator at a private school is that he can now share his faith with the students in a way he couldn't in a public school setting. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks Sandeen and others at the school began holding a ceremony on the Sept. 11 anniversary. At Our Redeemer's, he could hold the ceremony and also pray with the students, said Sandeen.
"I like being able to do that," said Sandeen.
Sandeen said he isn't sure how long he will be the administrator at Our Redeemer's. He might stay in the position until the board has had a chance to conduct a search for a permanent replacement, he said. So far, he is enjoying his return to administration.