Bach named High School Principal of the Year
Stillwater Area High School principal Rob Bach has been named the 2024 Minnesota High School Principal of the Year. He was chosen by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals out of more than 1,200 high school principals in the state. Bach is now one of just 50 educators nationwide in the running for National High School Principal of the Year.
During his 10 years at Stillwater, Bach has spearheaded several progressive initiatives, including grade reconfiguration. The multi-million-dollar building project added 700 ninth graders and 30 new staff to the high school.
Bach was also instrumental in implementing BARR, Building Assets and Reducing Risks, which has contributed to the shift in adult mindsets. Staff focuses on the strengths of students and builds off that to ensure they are meeting their full potential in academics and social emotional learning. SAHS serves as an anchor school for others to emulate and is one of just 30 schools in the country selected for the BARR Network for School Improvement funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Another highlight of Bach’s tenure is the Pathways program bringing real-world experiences and interest-based, relevant classes for students. Pathways offers additional opportunities for post-high school success to all students, whether they are pursuing a vocation or college degree, military or going directly into the workforce.
“Rob has a challenging job of leading such a large school, but he does it beautifully,” said Director of Schools Dawn Waller Lueck. “He is a strong leader who possesses a growth mindset and keeps students at the center of his work.”
Beyond the everyday duties and demands of serving as a building principal, one of Bach’s greatest strengths is his ability to connect and relate with students. Stillwater Area High School has a population of about 2,800 students, but as a large school, it feels like a close-knit community because of Bach’s leadership in the building.
Bach can often be spotted high-fiving students in the hallways, socializing in the cafeteria with students, and attending sporting events and activities to cheer on the Ponies. He has an uncanny ability to remember students' names and is able to form meaningful, lasting relationships with students.
“Rob understands building relationships with students is the most important thing,” said one teacher. “Rarely do we end a staff meeting without him reminding us to ‘Go for every student.’ This isn't just a tagline for Rob, he models this for staff every single day.”
Students say Bach has allowed their voices to grow at the school and has provided the school board with feedback that accurately represents the student body.
"Mr. Bach truly values every student and prioritizes our needs above all else," said student council president Sam Young. "I am very grateful to have a principal that puts me first."
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