BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— How many principals does it take to run one of North Dakota’s largest high schools? In other words, how much supervision do more than 1,400 high schoolers need? Right now, there are four principals at Legacy High School in Bismarck: the main principal and three assistants, plus an activities director.

“The reward of the work has been amazing,” Legacy High School Principal Tom Schmidt said.
“And meeting students and staff and meeting the challenges and where they’re currently at and trying to find students as times have changed. So, I go back to education when I started in 1995, to now, how much the world of education has changed,” Schmidt said.

Those changes and the need to meet them have led Bismarck Public Schools to constantly adapt. This year, in fact, Emily Jacobsen and John Heinrich have gone from being deans of students to assistant principals. Even though they needed to apply and take on more responsibility, they say it’s worth it.

“I love that I get to connect with all kids throughout the school and not just kids but all staff, being able to connect with all the teachers,” Legacy High School Assistant Principal John Heinrich said. “You know, when I was in the classroom, I didn’t even know all the staff, some of the time. But now, I get to know all the staff from support staff to our certified teaching staff.
And it’s wonderful working with staff equal to kids,” Heinrich said.

“I have a wide variety of interactions with my students,” Legacy High School Assistant Principal Emily Jacobsen said. “Ultimately, that’s why I come here each and every day is to work with students. And so, when I get to work with them as much as possible, when I get to work with staff and teachers as much as possible, brainstorming, finding creative ways to try new things, that is a great day for me,” Jacobsen said.

The biggest change in responsibility though comes to Legacy High School Activities Director Brett Mitchell, going from the classroom and field, to now making sure events needing to happen happen when and where they’re supposed to. “Part of my role is to bring together the classroom and extracurricular activities so that the people in our building have more interaction with our students and our students can tie what they learn in the field into the classroom. And I think bringing those two things together is super important. I want that to continue and to grow and for this to be a great place,” Mitchell said.

Making that growth happen can take a lot of planning for school officials. But sometimes, it’s as easy as giving a student candy. “They come in for a Blow Pop,” said Tom Schmidt, sitting behind his desk with a box of Blow Pops on it. “It’s a good reason to strike up a conversation about life and sports and music and whatever else might be going on in their world and just have some of those fun connections again.”

Is there someone we should know? Send Nicholas Quallich or Alysia Huck at