Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Bethany von Steinbergs

K-M Makes Commitment To Excellence Through New Hire

The Kasson-Mantorville School District prides itself on being an innovative educational institution and strives to be Minnesota’s premier school district. 

This summer K-M took another significant step toward reaching those lofty goals and achieving its vision. 

At its July 15 meeting, the Kasson-Mantorville School Board approved the hiring of Bethany von Steinbergs as the district’s Director of Employee Engagement and Strengths-based Culture. 

K-M is believed to be one of the first districts in the nation with a Director of Strengths-based Culture, according to Superintendent Mark D. Matuska. 

So what is Strengths-based culture? The K-M Administrative Team was first introduced to “StrengthsFinder” back in 2013 and has been working directly with von Steinbergs over the past 18 months. Von Steinbergs has utilized Gallup’s “CliftonStrengths” and the “StrengthsFinder” assessment to “uncover the group’s talents ... and equip them with strategies for applying (those) strengths.” Gallup’s description of “StrengthsFinder” states “All too often, our natural talents go untapped.” From cradle to career, we often devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths. 

As the school’s first-ever Director of Employee Engagement and Strengths-based Culture, von Steinbergs’ primary duties will include working with teachers and other school employees in a professional-development capacity. 

“We are once again making a move to show we are committed to excellence and committed to being a premier school district,” Matuska said. “To do that, we know we need to implement creative strategies. One of the proven ways to do that is to invest in our teachers. Our teachers spend eight hours each day with students, and they impact these students’ lives dramatically. So to build stronger relationships and increase teachers’ capacity, we want to continue in developing their strengths. We have excellent teachers in this district, and we want to be able to leverage their unique talents in order to equip students to be citizens of excellence beyond their time spent at Kasson-Mantorville.” 

The proposal to hire von Steinbergs was first presented to K-M’s Staff Development Committee last April. The committee unanimously voted in favor of creating the position for von Steinbergs, using available funds from the Staff Development Committee budget, and the School Board approval soon followed. “The state mandates that we set aside 2 percent of our budget for staff development, so these aren’t new dollars, but rather funds we allocate annually for professional development,” Matuska said. 

Von Steinbergs, who holds an undergraduate degree in Education from Bethel University and a Master of Arts degree in Missional Leadership from Northwestern University, is the founder of Flourish Consulting LLC, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to engaging and developing talent within 

organizations. She’s considered to be a captivating and passionate communicator, a gifted facilitator, and a champion of “Strengths” development. Throughout her 17-year professional career, which spans education, cross-cultural service, student affairs, faith-based organizations, and consulting nationally and internationally, von Steinbergs has witnessed, first-hand, “the transformational impact of an asset-based approach to developing people and teams.” 

Von Steinbergs will work in a one-on-one setting with all certified K-M teachers. Her tenure kicks off during K-M’s Workshop Week (Aug. 26-29), when she will present to all certified staff in the Minnesota WiFi Performing Arts Center. The rest of von Steinbergs’ work with teachers will be during early outs, late starts, snow days, and throughout the school day when time permits, in an effort to maximize her skills with all teachers. 

“Through the StrengthsFinder assessment, our staff will learn their innate talents,” Matuska said. “Our staff will have one-on-one conversations with (von Steinbergs), who is a Strengths expert and will help identify and encourage our staff to reach their greatest potential. 

Kasson-Mantorville’s Director of Teaching and Learning, Kelly Braun, who also is a member of the Staff Development Committee, was thrilled to see von Steinbergs hired at K-M. As a member of the Administrative Team, Braun has seen first-hand what von Steinbergs can do for educators both professionally and personally. 

“Every time I speak with (von Steinbergs), I feel like I learn something about myself,” Braun said. “ I'm excited for all of our certified instructional teammates to collaborate with (von Steinbergs), so they can begin to understand more about their unique strengths, identify how they can integrate their strengths into their instruction, and learn about their teammates’ unique strengths. All of this awesome learning and collaboration will not only benefit us all as instructional professionals and our students as learners, it will also benefit us in our everyday lives. It’s an exciting time to be a KoMet.” 

While the Staff Development Committee is elated to bring von Steinbergs on board, she’s equally excited to join the K-M staff and to roll up her sleeves and get to work. 

“Since the first time I began working with the K-M district, I knew it was a place I wanted to spend time,” von Steinbergs said. “I’m excited to bring my passion for education and teaching to K-M, and to help grow a culture of asset-based education. As a former sixth-grade math teacher and a person who is passionate about Strengths-based education, I can’t wait to work with teachers and help remind them how equipped they are to work with students in an excellent way.” 

During the 2019-20 school year, von Steinbergs is scheduled to work with certified staff. In 2020-21, she will expand her teachings to non-certified staff. 

“Staff development is critical for maintaining teachers of excellence,” Matuska said. “We are excited that our Staff Development Committee has chosen to invest in the Strengths-based development of our teaching staff for the 2019-20 school year. I want to give a special thanks to the Staff Development Committee for their investment in teachers, their continued innovation, and their ‘Commitment to Excellence!’” 


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