St. Paul educator Dan Mesick retires
By Alex Lodner
After more than 30 years as an educator in the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), Dan Mesick retired in December, capping an illustrious career that began after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1985.
The Wisconsin native taught math at Harding High School and Hazel Park Junior High before working as an administrative intern at Johnson and Ramsey Middle School. After that, Mesick served as assistant principal at Highland Park Senior School and then principal at Como Park High School.
A resume like that would be impressive enough. But in 2015, Mesick became the principal leader at the Office of College and Career Readiness, working to increase opportunities for high school students to earn college credit. This past school year, Mesick moved to the Office of Teaching and Learning to focus on the SPPS Indigenous and World Language Department and help students earn college credit for a second language.
Surprisingly, education wasn’t in Mesick’s original plans.
“While studying engineering at the University of Minnesota, I decided to move into education to work with students instead,” he said on the day he retired. “Halfway toward earning my engineering degree, I realized that I wasn’t as interested in the engineering as I was in helping students learn and be ready for their future. After coming to this realization, it was a short step to changing my major to pursue a degree in mathematics education.”
It was clearly a good fit.
“As a teacher at Hazel Park, I worked with math teachers across the district to start the SPPS Junior High Math League,” Mesick explained. “As an administrator at any of the schools I worked at, I was proud of being a tough but caring adult that supported students and encouraged them to be pursue their own success both during school but more importantly, after they graduated. In my most recent work it was exciting to expand the opportunities for all high school students to earn college credit and be ready for success after high school.”
After three decades in education, Mesick reflected on the many challenges and rewards of working with students in St. Paul.
“One of the coolest things about being Como Park principal was seeing students and graduates doing great things or seeing them out and about and hearing about their successes and accomplishments,” he said. “Another highlight is when my niece and nephew, both of whom are Como graduates, break into a ‘No Fun Mesick’ chant when they don’t get their way. The chant began when I was working to prevent seniors from making fun of the freshmen at pep assemblies.”
Mesick remains concerned for the well-being of all students in the district.
“The biggest challenge is the continued work to make sure that success isn’t based on a students’ race, gender, religion, sexuality or zip code,” he said before leaving on vacation. “SPPS leaders need to work with all members of the community to allow each student to develop their own measures of success and then help the students reach them.”
Mesick might be retired, but that doesn’t mean he is finished contributing to the community. “I am trying to not rush into anything,” he said. “Right now my plans for retirement are to relax and recharge. I love to travel and have a couple trips planned. I’m also planning on reconnecting with friends and family.”