CANNON FALLS -- Entering education wasn’t necessarily in Jeffrey Sampson’s plan. He started off as a computer science and math major in college, but didn’t feel it was the right fit for him.
Sampson always enjoyed working with kids and felt education would suit him well.
Since he graduated from Winona State, Sampson has worked in districts all over Minnesota like Hinckley, Winona and most recently as the superintendent of Southland.
With the Cannon Falls school year just around the corner, Sampson is settling to his role as superintendent.
Sampson was hired by the Cannon Falls School Board in April, replacing Beth Giese. Giese informed the School Board late last year that she would be moving on to the same role at St. Francis Area Schools.
In the short time he’s been in Cannon Falls, Sampson said he has been impressed by the amount of “positivity” from people in and around the district.
“It’s been great,” Sampson said. “Really it’s been a lot of meeting people and finding out the story of Cannon Falls, more in depth.”
Since he was previously a superintendent, the transition from one school to another hasn’t been all that difficult. Really, he’s more interested in trying to meet as many people around the community as possible.
Last December, the Southland School District ended its superintendent sharing agreement with the LeRoy-Ostrander School District.
Sampson, who was splitting his time evenly between the two districts, was trying to navigate an incident between two staff members at LeRoy-Ostrander.
The incident involving a middle school teacher and high school principal, resulting in their coaching contracts not being renewed, was a months long controversy in the district.
Misinformation surrounding the incident about Sampson being “relieved of his duties” was simply not true. Sampson said because of privacy laws, the district couldn’t release or discuss all information surrounding the incident.
“When policies say this, that tell you you have to do this, and you can’t talk about it because there’s confidentiality issues, then you just have to sit there and take arrows and bullets and whatever’s slung at you,” Sampson said. “Fortunately, some people understood it. There was a small handful that didn’t and those are usually the one’s talking to the press and getting everyone fired up about it.”
Southland had passed an $18.2 million referendum that fall. The district wanted Sampson to be heavily involved in the planning process so board members decided to bring him back.
The contract was over at the end of the year, so Sampson dedicated all of his time toward Southland.
“Was it good timing? Yeah. It just happened to be that way.”
Why Cannon Falls?
Sampson grew up in the Kasson-Mantorville area and most recently was living in Rochester. Cannon Falls always represented an easy halfway point for Sampson, saying he has relatives in the metro area. Sampson and his in-laws would go golfing in town or swim at Lake Byllesby.
Having the chance to join a district like Cannon Falls will also give Sampson’s daughter, who is entering fourth grade next month, to be in the same building as her father for the first time. Sampson said his daughter was disappointed to leave the Rochester area, but was excited to have her dad in the same district.
Aside from the many personal reasons, Sampson said the district is in solid financial shape, the facilities are well cared for and test scores are impressive across all grades.
With just less than two weeks to go, Sampson is ready for the school year to begin, ready to immerse himself in Cannon Falls.