New St. Benedict Principal Steve Haluska is happy to be back in education.
Haluska, 56, retired last fall after 19 years with the Carroll Community School District. He served first as a driver’s education teacher and then as principal. He coached girls and boys cross country, junior-varsity basketball and middle school track during his tenure there.
Haluska said when he hit the “rule of 88,” (the formula for state employees which determines eligibility for retirement by combining the person’s age with years of public service), he decided it was time to give something else a try.
Haluska left the District to try his hand at corporate America, securing a job as a seed-service advisor with Monsanto’s Channel Seeds division.
“I worked with good people, but I really missed the kids and the staff and all of the camaraderie and connections you get with people involved at a school,” said Haluska.
“Sometimes you have to step away from something to realize how much you miss it and how passionate you are about what you are doing.”
Haluska said as someone with a strong Catholic background, he was attracted to the faith-based part of education at St. Ben’s.
“Through some conversations with my friend Vern Henkenius, president (superintendent) at Kuemper Catholic Schools, Carroll, and some soul-searching myself, I decided I really wanted to get into a parochial setting.
“It affords you an opportunity you do not have in public education to have those discussions regarding faith formation,” he said.
A warm welcome
Haluska said he has found Decorah to be a “welcoming, nice community.”
“When I came for the interview, I met with a parent group, representatives of the Board, many of the staff members and Father Phil. They were all excellent – so open and very relaxed,” he said.
“We had some great dialogue, and I really came away with a good feeling about all the people connected with St. Benedict’s. The dedication was very evident to me,” he said.
Haluska said he also appreciates former Principal Dana Holkesvik for all of her help with the transition. Holkesvik recently replaced the retiring Diane Lovstuen as Decorah Community School District facilitator for instruction and assessment.
“I can’t thank her enough for how organized she left things for me. Everything is so well documented and well kept and she was so great about communicating with me and leaving me in a good position,” he said, adding Administrative Assistant Kristy Meyer also has been extremely helpful.
Passion for students
Haluska said while most of his experience is working with high schoolers, he looks forward to being able to work with younger students.
“I deeply care about kids and have a passion for students. I am excited to work with kids in their formative years, when we kind of know what they need when they go to high school. I think it will be a breath of fresh air,” he said.
Haluska is currently staying with his brother, Decorah Superintendent Mike Haluska, while he and his wife, Kim, sell their home in Carroll and transition to Decorah.
They have three grown sons: Adam of Solon, Sean of Carroll and Blake, a senior at the University of Iowa.