RED WING -- It wasn’t long after accepting the social studies teaching position in 1989 that George Nemanich found himself on Barn Bluff. Along with his wife, Mary, and then Red Wing Superintendent Clayton Hovda, Nemanich said he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“I mean, we literally hiked up Barn Bluff,” Nemanich said. “Think about this: The guy is in a suit and tie and we’re hiking up Barn Bluff.”
Thirty years later, Nemanich is the new high school principal, excited to be back in the district at which he spent most of his teaching career.
Hovda brought the Nemanichs on the bluff to sell the community, something Nemanich said he was sold on a year prior when he interviewed for a part-time teaching position. Driving to Red Wing in 1988 was his first experience in the city, remarking at “what a beautiful place.”
In an earlier interview, Nemanich met with Principal Larry Sonju, Jim Pohl (Nemanich would later serve as an assistant coach of the boys hockey team under Pohl and Pohl also would serve as RWHS principal one day), and George Carter. Nemanich even met with Hovda that day.
The young teacher had a decision to make -- take a part-time position with Red Wing or a full-time position in St. Paul.
Nemanich ultimately chose the St. Paul job, but after three months he recalled that he felt like he made a mistake. When he meets with teaching candidates, he tells them in the interview to go with their gut, a reminder of what he should’ve done in 1988.
Nemanich applied for a full-time Red Wing position the following year. After the first choice turned the job down, Nemanich got a call from Sonju, asking if he would come back to Red Wing for an interview. Nemanich quickly said that he’d love to do so.
After the successful interview, the job was his. Then came the hike up barn bluff with Hovda in his work attire.
Nemanich said Hovda even arranged for a Realtor to begin looking for homes. Nemanich said Hovda was trying to sell him and his wife on living in the Red Wing community. It didn’t take long for them to find a place.
“H3 was just one of these people that, and I think you can say the same about Larry Sonju, those guys cared about their staff,” Nemanich said. “They really wanted to make sure we had people in the community.”
Nemanich went on to teach for 18 years at the high school and middle school.
In 2007, Nemanich was hired as the assistant principal of Twin Bluff Middle School, his first opportunity at an administrative position.
Along with the many years of teaching, Nemanich coached football and was the head coach of the boys hockey team from 1992-2010. The hockey team won the state championship in 1997.
In 2009, with his children involved heavily in school events, Nemanich decided to focus more on his family and resigned from coaching. He also decided to look around the area for a new job opportunity, landing at Mayo High School in Rochester as an assistant principal.
Nemanich was most recently the principal at Ben Franklin Elementary and Montessori at Franklin, also in Rochester.
“I learned a ton in those six years as a leader of the building and how to lead,” Nemanich said. “I made my share of mistakes, as anyone would, but you learn from your mistakes and you get better.”
Although Nemanich has worked in the Rochester Public School District for the past decade, he never moved from Red Wing. Nemanich’s youngest son graduated last year.
Since he never left Red Wing, Nemanich feels like he can relate well to the high school parents that he’ll be serving.
“I think that helps my perspective with parents, because I’ve been one,” Nemanich said. “I’ve been a parent of high schoolers for the last 10 years.”
Now, he’s excited to be involved with the district again outside of simply being a parent. In his first year back, Nemanich said he hopes to continue to have the school be a safe environment and to keep Red Wing on the forefront of modern education.
Maybe someday, Nemanich will return the favor Hovda paid him upon his hiring in 1989, showing new hires how beautiful Red Wing is.
Or just let Superintendent Karsten Anderson take the new staff on a hike.