Arlyn Marquardt has never been the sort of man who sought the limelight, but he received a worthy send-off during the Minot Public School Board meeting on Thursday, which was his last meeting as assistant superintendent.
Marquardt choked up as he thanked the people he has worked with for nearly 40 years. In return, board members and administrators rose to their feet to give the veteran educator a standing ovation to thank him for so many years of service.
"He's one of the kindest people that I have ever met," said Supt. Mark Vollmer.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Assistant superintendent Arlyn Marquardt has retired from the Minot Public School District after nearly 40 years.
Vollmer said Marquardt hired him when he was first hired as principal at Minot High School-Magic City Campus a decade ago and had been responsible for doing his job evaluations. During the last year, they joked a bit when they found that Vollmer was now in charge of evaluating Marquardt's performance.
Marquardt said he never really seriously considered trying to become superintendent himself. He has been very happy in the jobs he has held.
Even though he is often low-key, Vollmer and business manager Scott Moum said that Marquardt is a consummate professional who has always kept up with the latest educational trends. Marquardt was the first person in the district to pay close attention to the concept of professional learning communities, which has been adopted district-wide in the last five years.
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"He was very insistent that administrators attend the PLC conference," said Vollmer. "That is not really his nature."
The PLC concept involves teachers working closely together on lessons and measuring student performance and concentrates on helping kids who have fallen behind catch up. The PLC concept includes regular intervention with struggling students and teachers from the same department meeting on a regular basis to go over lessons, among other things. It has been credited with helping improve student learning.
"He's a sharp guy," said Moum.
Marquardt first came to Minot when he was stationed here with the Air Force. He and his wife, Donna, are originally from Wisconsin. Marquardt finished his coursework at Minot State University and was hired as a media arts teacher at Minot High School-Magic City Campus in 1973, the year the school was opened.
"I kind of consider myself a charter member of (Magic City Campus)," said Marquardt.
When the school was built, the state-of-the-art facility was considered something of a showcase. Teachers and administrators from other school districts often came to tour the building in the first months it was in use, said Marquardt. The school was so new that pencil sharpeners hadn't been installed in the classrooms yet, something that was a bigger deal than it is now in the Internet age.
Right from the beginning the administrators were determined to maintain the building in top condition and made sure to repair any damage that was done and to punish students who damaged it. Marquardt said the students took a lot of pride in the school and helped to take care of it. Thirty-nine years later the high school is still in good condition.
Marquardt enjoyed his years at Magic City Campus, where he also served as a speech coach for 17 years.
"I enjoyed as a classroom teacher the relationships you build with the students," said Marquardt. He said it's fun when former students sometimes stop by and he has a chance to hear about what they have done since high school. He always felt that he had a small part to play in some of their successes.
Marquardt said he worked under good administrators and many of them served as mentors for him. In the mid-1970s, he decided to pursue an advanced degree in administration, which enabled him to move into the drug education coordinator position in 1991. He later became a curriculum coordinator for the district, a role he greatly enjoyed because he was able to work closely with teachers and to choose curriculum for the district. In 1998, Marquardt moved into the assistant superintendent spot, which he has held for 14 years. Marquardt said he has always been satisfied to hold the assistant superintendent position and never really wanted to be superintendent himself. Being second in command is a challenging job, said Marquardt, but also rewarding.
Befitting his modest, low-key personality, he said he just plans to do many of the things other retirees do.
"My wife (Donna) and I have four beautiful grandchildren," said Marquardt. "We will be able to spend more time with them."
The grandchildren range in age from 2 to 8 and live in North Dakota and Minnesota. His wife retired as an elementary teacher a few years ago and, with his own retirement at the end of the month, Marquardt said they will be more available to babysit when their sons ask them to visit.
Marquardt thinks he will need at least a month to relax and do nothing, but at some point he would also like to do more volunteer work and to travel.
His last day of work was Friday.