Molly Schilling, H-BC secondary principal, is selected as superintendent at Adrian Public Schools.

H-BC principal to be Adrian superintendent

Hills-Beaver Creek High School Principal Molly Schilling will be the new superintendent in the Adrian School District starting July 1.

Schilling was selected last week from 12 applicants and was one of three finalists for the position to replace retiring superintendent Roger Graff.

Graff announced his retirement in February after 17 years with the Adrian district. His last day is June 30.

Adrian worked with the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) in the superintendent search.

For their next superintendent, Adrian School Board members identified six leadership criteria, such as experience in school finance and management, ability to lead cooperatively and delegate, and demonstrate accountability, honesty and an understanding of administrative procedures.

Schilling best met the leadership criteria, according to board chairman Chris Wolf.

“Molly also processes several intangibles that are hard to describe on paper,” he said.

“Her ability to form relationships with students, staff, parents and community really stood out to us. Her passion for education and high social intelligence made her the candidate that we are excited to work with.”

Adrian’s superintendent search began in March just as the coronavirus pandemic became an issue. Concerns over COVID-19 exposure changed how the search was ultimately conducted.

The March community listening sessions were canceled, and the school board’s public meetings were live-streamed. Interviews were completed virtually using Zoom.

“This pandemic introduced quite a few unknowns into the process,” Wolf said. “We were initially worried that we wouldn’t have much of a pool to choose from.” 

From the pool of 12 applicants, a team of Adrian staff members narrowed the pool to five, with three candidates interviewed by board members.

“Conducting our meetings via teleconference was definitely unique but not an entirely negative process,” Wolf said.

“Something is lost when you’re not able to sit across the table with the candidates and read each other’s nonverbal communication cues. On the other hand, it was easier for our farmer board members to take part in meetings. One member was using his iPad to log onto Zoom from his tractor.”

The board set a starting superintendent salary range from $115,000 to $130,000 for the full-time position. Schilling will lead the district of 620 students and 71 staff members.

Graff worked under a 110-day contract with a base salary of $46,000.

Adrian board members are expected to finalize Schilling’s contract at their May 18 meeting.

Wolf said Schilling’s first priority as she settles into her new position is to learn more about school finance.

“Since she is coming to us as a principal with no superintendent experience, she reassured us that the finance aspect of the job will be a focus, as she is learning her new role in education,” he said. “Her references all spoke of (her) willingness to accept new challenges as well as her ability to quickly learn.”

Schilling was hired as the H-BC secondary principal last summer. Prior to her position at Hills, she served as the elementary-middle school principal with Little Rock-George, Iowa, for eight years.

In the nine months on the job in Hills, Schilling developed a good rapport with students and staff. 

“I love my H-BC family and role as principal in the secondary building,” she said. “The superintendent opening in Adrian was an opportunity I could not pass up. Becoming a superintendent has been a goal of mine and is a step up for my career.” 

She said she is looking forward to her new role with Adrian schools.

“The Adrian District, like H-BC, has a lot of great things going for it that I am excited to add to,” she said. “It is also an opportunity to be closer to home.”

Schilling and her husband, Curt, farm just outside the Adrian School District in the Ellsworth district. The couple has three children, two in elementary school and one preschool-aged. Schilling previously taught secondary science at Ellsworth.

Last fall the Adrian and Ellsworth school districts adopted a pairing agreement in athletics and extracurricular activities.

“The new sharing agreement between Adrian and Ellsworth also means that my children and I will be able to attend the same events,” she said.

Schilling joins elementary and secondary principal Cate Koehne and dean of student services Randy Schettler as administrators in the Adrian district.

Hills-Beaver Creek School Board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 11. Board members will discuss the next steps of the soon-to-be open secondary principal position. 


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