Inspired by Bill Rasmussen, a history and world religions teacher at Park Center High School, at 16, Tony Degel decided he wanted to be a teacher.
“He made learning fun and it seemed like he was helping people,” said Degel, a new assistant principal at Crossroads Alternative High School, Coon Rapids.
“I said, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ I went into teaching to work with kids and open their eyes to new things and inspire them to learn.”
As a student at St. Cloud State University in 2001, Degel did his student teaching at Blaine High School with Bill Davids.
He worked as a social studies teacher at Northview Junior High in Brooklyn Park and at a middle school in Bryan, Texas.
Having earned a graduate degree in educational administration from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, Degel has worked as a dean of students at Minnetonka High School, Shakopee Middle School and Mounds View Area Learning Center.
As a teacher, Degel felt he was able to connect with students. He wanted to also connect with teachers and have a further reach, so he decided to go into administration.
“I want to be someone who can bring new ideas to a school, not just a classroom,” Degel said.
“I want to see kids and teachers be successful and to guide teachers to find the results they are looking for.”
Through his career, Degel said he has worked with at-risk students.
When Degel saw the opening for Crossroads, he applied with the goal of building on successes he had in Mounds View in a new school.
“The biggest thing is motivating kids to come to school,” he said. “At Mounds View we had a welcoming environment and we showed them the value of education.
“The staff worked hard at this; the kids recognized that and wanted to be part of it. Our attendance rates, test scores and graduation rates went up. The students saw this and felt good.”
In his new role at Crossroads, Degel will work to build a rapport with students and staff and looks forward to them getting to know him on a professional and personal level.
A resident of Anoka-Hennepin, Degel has two students at Hoover Elementary School.
He looks forward to working with the students as they prepare for life after high school, Degel said.