After 34 years within the West Fargo School District, assistant superintendent Louise Dardis will resign from her position on April 5 and begin working with schools across the state.
She - along with her husband, Bernie, and two grown sons, Patrick and Daniel - has been a part of the district since 1979.
Dardis began her career in West Fargo as a teacher at Harwood Elementary School. Four years later, she served as a teaching principal at Horace Elementary School.
After another four years, she began working in the administrative side of the district. She worked as Westside Elementary School’s principal for 12 years before stepping into her current role 14 years ago.
“I found out very quickly that I prefer working with adult learners,” Dardis said. “One thing I missed coming into the district office was the interaction with kids. It’s terrific to get to know the kids and watch them progress through the grade levels. I have students I used to teach come back now and talk to me. That is very heartwarming.”
Upon finishing her district duties, she will become the project manager for North Dakota’s Succeed 2020 program, which is dedicated to providing “successful transitions from school to college and careers for all North Dakota students.”
The program came from a $25 million grant from the Hess Corporation with FHI 360 serving as the non-profit arm. Through this program, Dardis will provide direct support to Regional Education Agencies and represent the project statewide.
“I’ll be doing a lot of what I do now. I’ll be working with eight regional REAs across the state, looking at dropout rates, skill attainments and having kids college- and career-ready. We are looking at on-time graduation. The Hess Corporation provided this grant to improve education so they have workforce development as kids graduate.”
Dardis will remain in the area and work in an office from home. While there will be some travel involved, she will attend most meetings via Skype.
“We live in an electronic world,” Dardis said. “A lot of what I’ll be doing will be done electronically.”
In her first year, she will be working full-time. After that, she will work on a 70-percent time basis.
Looking back on her 34-year career, watching the district grow exponentially has been a major highlight for Dardis.
“When I came here, it was quite a poor district,” Dardis said. “As we have come into the 21st Century, we have become a data-driven district, making kids college- and career-ready. We have made huge progress, especially in the last 13 years. It has been very gratifying.”
Because of that growth, Dardis knows that the number of people able to take over for her will be high.
“We are very fortunate to be in a situation where many educators want to come to our district,” Dardis said. “The district will do just fine without me. There are a lot of highly qualified candidates from which to draw a new hire.”
One thing Dardis said she will miss is the interaction she has with employees throughout the district every day.
“I work with a great group of people, not only at the district office but out in the schools,” Dardis said. “But I am fortunate that I’m staying in the area and will be working with some of the people at a different level. Maintaining relationships is still there, but I’ll miss the daily contact.”
“I would like to say (to the community) thanks for the support and the good years,” Dardis said. “Without the support of the public, our district would not have come as far as it has. It’s gratifying to see how invested our public is in the education of the West Fargo School District. That is what is going to continue to drive West Fargo Public Schools.”