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Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Interim superintendent aims to lead Yutan forward

Being new anywhere can be challenging. But this is a challenge Yutan’s interim superintendent Rex Pfeil welcomes as he starts his 35th year in education in his seventh school district.

“I love to learn new things and be around new people because every school district does things a little bit different. There’s an overall sameness to school districts, but everybody does things differently. So I’m excited about that,” said Pfeil.

Superintendent Rex Pfeil answers a district related email using the computer. Pfeil states one of the first things he does in the morning is answer emails. The rest of his day consists of staff meetings or following up on tasks that need to get done in the district. (Courtesy photo)

Pfeil’s 35 years as an educator have been full of trying new things, such as his first job as a shop teacher in Fairmont, Neb., that came with a lot of activities to sponsor.

“If any of you are interested, when you sign up for a teaching job like that, they say, ‘you’re going to be a teacher. And by the way you’re going to coach football, basketball, track, F Club’s sponsor, sophomore class sponsor and whatever else we tell you to do.’ And at that point in time, my dad said, ‘You got to get a job. So you say yes,’” said Pfeil.

After three years at Fairmont, Pfeil spent another eight years teaching shop at Platteview before moving into administration.

“I was really interested in the leadership aspect of education. My dad was a longtime teacher, coach, and I really learned a lot from him and things that he did. And one of the things he really emphasized to me was that leadership is really the key to success in any organization,” said Pfeil.

Pfeil started his administrative career as a principal at Blair High School, where he spent thirteen years working mostly with “student discipline, conflict management and then teacher evaluation.” He then left to become principal at Ralston, but his time there ended quickly.

“The next year, I went back to Blair as the superintendent of schools. I planned on being at Ralston for a long time, and I got a phone call one day saying, ‘We’d like you to come back.’ So I went through the whole interview process, and that’s that,” said Pfeil.

Pfeil retired in 2018 after eight more years at Blair, but he didn’t stay out of education long. In 2019, Pfeil became an interim superintendent at Nebraska City Public Schools. This was the same year that COVID shut down schools in March.

Leadership is really the key to success in any organization.

— Rex Pfeil

“I finished that year and then the next year, I was going to stay there, but then I didn’t because of COVID and my mom is still alive,” said Pfeil. “She’s 99 years old, still lives in her house. And so I was kind of her caretaker during that time because we didn’t want her to get sick.”

A year after the pandemic, Pfeil became an interim superintendent in Shickley, Neb., for a year. Pfeil then took a year off before coming to Yutan. Part of what drew him to Yutan was that it reminds him of his hometown, Elkhorn.

“I told people Yutan reminds me of Elkhorn when I grew up. It was outside of Omaha, small, starting to see some growth in the town. But really Yutan reminds me of that,” said Pfeil.

Because of his many years in education, Pfeil brings a wealth of experience to Yutan, though he said it’s not always in the way people might assume.

“One of the things I told the principals this year is that when you’ve been around a long time like me, some people say you’re wise—why is because of experience, and sometimes my experience has been not good because I’ve made really bad mistakes,” said Pfeil. “Recover from them, but you still make mistakes. That’s how you grow and learn.”

Because he knows that making mistakes is a huge part of the learning opportunity, part of Pfeil’s leadership style involves asking questions, which he practices with other superintendents that he mentors.

“One of the things I like to do with them is ask questions, and a lot of times what they’ll do is, ‘I just want to know how, tell me what to do.’ I’m not going to tell you what to do. Because then I’m doing it and you’re not learning and growing,” said Pfeil.

Pfeil is also able to use this leadership technique in working with the school board at Yutan.

My goal is to really number one kind of understand the current realities and perceptions of the district.

— Rex Pfeil

“One of my jobs at the board is to keep them moving, to help them become a more effective Board of Education. Because everything they do affects you (the students),” Pfeil said. “My job is to make sure that they have information, they have asked the right questions, I’ve posed the right questions to them, and they’re ready to make a good informed decision to the best interest of the students in the district.”

Pfeil’s goals for the district stem from his unique role as an interim versus permanent superintendent.
“I’m a bridge between the permanent superintendent and the next one the board and the staff will hire,” said Pfeil. “So my goal is to really number one kind of understand the current realities and perceptions of the district.”

Another of Pfeil’s goals during his short time at Yutan is to keep the district moving in the right direction.

“[I want] to help the district move forward with certain programs and initiatives that are already in place. And just to make sure that when I leave here, it’s a better place,” said Pfeil.

Even though he’s only been here for a couple of months, Pfeil has already noticed a lot of positives in the district to build on.

“I think there’s a lot of caring here. There’s a lot of pride,” said Pfeil. “There’s a lot of connection, and it’s a good environment. Really, really impressive.”

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About the Contributor
Maddie Bailiff
Maddie Bailiff, Sophomore writer
Maddie Bailiff is a sophomore and in her second year of journalism.  She enjoys writing, being with family and spending time with friends.  Her favorite part of Journalism is taking pictures and writing stories. 
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