Principal at The Apple Valley High School
March 18, 2016
Gary Embretson was the second principal at AVHS, and the man who helped hire Mr. Degenaar in 1994. Mr. Embretson retired in 1999 and passed the torch to Mr. Degenaar.
“It’s been a great career (as principal),” said Degenaar. “I loved teaching in the classroom, but the opportunity came knocking. I was the youngest assistant principal, at 32 years old, in Minnesota at the time–it’s been a long career in administration.”
He describes the job as “knowing a little bit about a lot of stuff.” It’s true–in 17 years as principal there probably isn’t anything he hasn’t dealt with.
“All the issues of the school come through my office at some point. Ideas come here and sometimes die here.”
Mr. Degenaar is like our president: the man never gets a rest! “It doesn’t matter if I’m at church, a basketball game, or the grocery store,” he says. “One of the biggest reasons I’m retiring is because of the hours–it’s a consistent 65-hour work week. Just like I expected.”
Always staying true to his roots, Mr. Degenaar says, “I didn’t realize at the time, even back as a student in the early 70’s, that District 196 did things better than most school districts. I didn’t know that until college, when I realized how prepared I was for little things like writing research papers. Even when I left the district, I always knew I wanted to get back in the game here. At Simley, it wasn’t the same as being here in 196. After the position of assistant principal opened at Apple Valley I thought I died and went to heaven.”
On top of being a principal and teacher, Mr. Degenaar coached basketball and baseball for a number of years, but ‘Principal’ is still the best. He says, “There are so many rewards that come with the job. The state tournaments, the events in the theatre, our speech and debate team…the list just goes on. We are an exceptional school in an exceptional district.”
But the journey isn’t ending here for Mr. Degenaar. “I’m going to look for a job this fall; I’m going to work a few more years. It will not be more than 40 hours a week, I can promise you that. I want to spend more time with my family. With my wife, Angie–our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up on June 7th. We have two wonderful kids. My daughter Kelsey is 26–she’s a graphic artist in Bloomington. And my son Casey is a senior at the U–he’s an English major but now he’s trying to get into law school.”
And he already has some plans for this summer. “My family and I are going to Germany for three weeks, and when we come back I’ll look for a part-time social studies teaching job. It would be really cool to end my career the way it started. It could be 8th grade world geography again.
“Or if not I could drive for Uber.”