73: Ryan Baron, School Superintendent During COVID-19 (transcript)

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73: Ryan Baron, School Superintendent During COVID-19 (blog post)

Ryan Baron 0:00
We had about 25 people 45 families that asked to get internet that didn’t have it and the town the company in town was very gracious to get them hooked up and they so everybody who needs it right now or at least has told us they need it has gotten a thanks to the company in town.

Curt Carstensen 0:31
This is People I Know Show. I’m Curt Carstensen. It’s Episode 73 of the podcast. My guest today is Ryan Baron. Ryan, who I like to consider my first best friend. My best friend from Browerville High School way back in the day, is currently superintendent and principal of Tri County Schools in extreme Northwestern Minnesota. A several hour drive from where I’m at in the Twin Cities area, the social distancing aspect of what’s going on helped us connect to have a extra special reason to connect because of his positions. As a superintendent in principal, he has a perspective on all the distance learning that’s going on in Minnesota and in most places in this country in a lot of parts of the world. He gets to share what he has seen and learned from that. And we did this as a live Facebook video earlier this week, you can check out the video if you prefer, links are in the show notes for that as well as to connect with me through the podcast on the different social media sites. We mostly talk about what’s happening in his community and with distance learning, but also we get into genealogy, which was the main topic when he was on the podcast previously, that was Episode 11 about a year and a half ago. Go back and check that one out. If you like that topic, Ryan has many interesting stories to share in what he has learned about his family and other people’s families by doing a whole bunch of research. One quick note from my personal life that might be a tip for you. Just recently, my family, my siblings and some nieces and nephews decided to have a zoom exercise call each morning. So far, so good. Not that we’re going to be doing the exact same workout every day. But we’re holding each other accountable to make sure we get our day going earlier, and have more motivation to work out right away something that I find very necessary and useful. I’ve been working out but sometimes I don’t get out of bed that early. Because it’s four weeks and counting now that I’ve been at home and I’m sure if not you, someone your life is in that same situation. Maybe that springs an idea for you or some other way of taking that concept into some other morning inspiration. my microphone situation was better than Ryan’s in this conversation at times, maybe he’s hard to hear, but I think overall, he comes through pretty clearly. Now to my conversation with Ryan Baron.

Hello, Mr. Ryan Baron.

Ryan Baron 3:17
Hello, Mr. Curt Carstensen, and I’m here without my earbuds because I don’t. I don’t get like all those people on CBS News or they all have those air pods. I don’t have those. I can’t afford those yet.

Curt Carstensen 3:29
Can’t afford them yet. When do you think you’ll be able to afford those?

Ryan Baron 3:32
After this pandemic is over? I might be able to splurge on my stimulus package comes in.

Curt Carstensen 3:38
Well, as we get started here, yeah, the stimulus package? I don’t I haven’t met anyone personally that has received that yet.

Ryan Baron 3:47
No, they said that they they had sent some out starting like late last week or even yesterday, but checked my account. It hasn’t been put in there and I do direct deposit so I just check it and see but it’s not there.

Curt Carstensen 3:59
Yeah. I’ll survive for now. So tell me as we get started here, you as the superintendent and principal, which, when you told me the first time that you were in that role for Tri County Schools, I didn’t know is that common? Are there a lot of Superintendent principals at like in the state of Minnesota, or is your dual position kind of rare?

Ryan Baron 4:22
Well, it’s more common up in northern Minnesota, you don’t find a lot of it in southern Minnesota because most of the schools are a little bit bigger. But the school to the north, and he has that there’s a lot of schools that will do a superintendent elementary principal, because elementary principal does involve a lot of scheduling. And some of the stuff that a high school principals schedule is a big thing, disciplines and one. There’s a lot of stuff that goes with the high school principal that makes it really tough for someone to do both roles, but you’ll see a lot of Superintendent elementary principal that’s common throughout the state. And then you’ll see a principal slash AD for the high school principal, that’s a common thing. Up here, there’s a few high school superintendent, Principal north of me there’s one out in the international falls, there’s a school that has it. Some smaller schools do have it and others a couple of in central Minnesota that have it, but use it a pretty small schools probably 200 or 300 less kids in the whole school.

Curt Carstensen 5:22
Okay, so because

Ryan Baron 5:24
this is not mandatory, there’s a school that is near us that has 250 kids and they have a superintendent or principal full time. So it’s not mandated. It’s not a hard line rules rule that if you have a school of this size, you need to do both because if a school can afford it, they like to split them off.

Curt Carstensen 5:44
Explain how many total students you’re overseeing, and, and kind of what that process has been like since since they’re all they’re in different towns and there’s all kinds of obstacles I know that you’re dealing with. So how many how many kids right now are not coming to school but are instead learning from home,

Ryan Baron 6:02
well, including headstart ends up being about 225 total. Now, headstart is not there through a separate entity, even though they’re not ruling the school, technically they’re in our building, and we feed them and give them a building. And those kids normally enroll in the school at some point when they get older. But you know, with them, it’s about 225 on a roll on about 210 with our preschool, and when you count K through 12, it’s 100 and maybe five or so with when you’re K through 12. And then you throw in all the additional younger kids with school readiness, vpk. headstart up to 20 or so to 25. Okay, it’s pretty small.

Curt Carstensen 6:53
And what is what does that process been like from the moment that you when you first heard That this was happening. Were you getting, Did you have a few days to realize this might be happening? Or are you kind of shocked that you’re going to have to transition in the way that you had to?

Ryan Baron 7:09
Well, it’s kind of funny, we we saw what’s going on there were schools around the nation that were starting to do this. And I think Wisconsin had been first before us, and I’m one of my students had come to me and said, You know, that’s probably gonna happen in Minnesota. So we knew what was we were planning for it. And we actually talked about distance learning because one schools had done elearning days for snow days. So we actually had met about it prior that you know, this is something we’re going to look into. So we don’t have to do slow days or when we have a snow day. We can actually still have a day a school and call it you know, distance learning or an E learn, but there were certain hoops you have to go through at the time to get those Conant. So we have met actually, the Friday before that Sunday, we had a school we had a meeting for staff and said, you know, keep this in mind. It’s here’s where we’re at with this COVID-19 In the state of Minnesota, but get ready because it might be coming. Well then that Sunday. In the morning, we got a message that it’s going to happen. And sure enough, it did. They want to end up happening is we met with some area superintendents at the school here, because we’re kind of central to a bunch of schools. There’s about eight to 10 of us that met in the afternoon. And we only had the executive order about what we were mandated to do, which said we were going to have to feed kids, we were going to have to provide childcare and we would have to distance learning. So we met and talked about how we were going to do that. And everybody kind of brought their own ideas. And that evening after we met then I got the department heads together, which would be your custodial, your transportation, cook technology office. We got all them together. And then we met and talked about what we would do to meet this mandate. Well, was a good meeting was a great meeting had to be a ten I would say, sent out an instant alert to our families that evening and let them know kind of what the deal was. And then the governor did give us eight days to give us two days of school. So we, next day then got all the kids together and told them what was going to happen. Then we, we took two days, and we did surveys and funnel what technology people had we, then on Wednesday, I think once it was first able to have school, so we took Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then the following week, eight days to do some planning. And so we got together. That Wednesday, we met as a staff all together then we met with the high school in the elementary separate and, okay, what’s the right way to work with elementary students? Are they technology oriented? Do we have technology capabilities, our packets the way to go? How are we going to get these packets? How are you going back? Great. You know, then we were also mandated to attendance daily, which is a tough thing because people have to check in and How do you do check ins with kids that have packets? And so we had to work with some technology like class tag or remind me app and because our students, elementary wise in high school don’t necessarily have devices and we don’t have enough devices, our school had 50 Chromebooks and 50 iPads are so well, if you do the math and occurred even with you, even with your high school math Curt, when you have 210 kids, hundred hundred devices is not enough. Yeah. So we were shorter than that. So that’s what that survey was for to find out who had laptops with iPads. And so we knew that was gonna be a problem. The other thing is we have internet for everybody because we’re up in northwest Minnesota and broadband is not something that’s fully developed yet for everybody. Now, for some people it is and the internet is is good, but not everybody Has it because it’s not run to all their houses and so then the the area company offered to give internet to those who don’t have internet but what an up happening is people who did have internet couldn’t get faster internet for for that same price they had to pay for that upgrade so we find people that have like three Meg’s per second as their what their thing is their package. And that’s not enough when you start doing zoom and try to do online stuff especially for parents is working from home. Three Meg’s per second is not going to work very well.

Curt Carstensen 11:31
Are there? Are there students in your school than right now that have that haven’t been able to get any internet and are having to try to learn without the internet?

Ryan Baron 11:40
No, every student we had about 25 people 25 families that has to get internet that didn’t have it and the total of the company and tell them was very gracious to get them hooked up and they so everybody who needs it right now or at least has told us they need has gotten a thanks to the company and tell them Wiktel is the name of the company and town and been Very nice. They also donated 15 Chromebooks for our high school for those who didn’t have devices. We ordered 25 more on. And so we got 40 more, and we’ve given out, I suppose 30-40 maybe total between everybody. So right now it seems that everybody who’s needed a device has now got it. Some are using their own iPad, some are some are still using their phone, they work well with it. That’s all they know how to use and so they existed. But right now everybody who has a need has gotten an addressed.

Curt Carstensen 12:35
I’m going to flash a little technological capability on the screen your brother Steve says hello, anyone that has a question for Ryan or for me. I mean, probably about what’s what he’s dealing with or what’s going on in the modern times. But really, if you want to send any random question right now your opportunity is here to to catch up with Ryan and I as we for those of those of you tuning in that don’t have any concept of our friendship we go back we were best friends back in Browerville High School 20 plus years ago, when we I guess our friendship would have began 20 more than that a

Ryan Baron 13:15
long time ago. 20 years next we graduated Really? I knew you since you were like five

Curt Carstensen 13:21
Yeah, that’s I do but we really started becoming good friends probably like junior high school. I think we got closer sort of hanging out more I don’t know it’s so long ago. It’s kind of foggy, but I was I how many people you don’t even name the others, but how many people outside of your family and any maybe like relationships you’ve had have visited you in Karlstad?

Ryan Baron 13:44
Well, from my hometown, I think, Curt, you’re one of them. And you’re probably the only one really.

Curt Carstensen 13:54
So I was there.

Ryan Baron 13:55
One other person has Josh, Whitey.

Curt Carstensen 13:58
Okay. I’ve been there. Twice the second time it was, you know, kind of easy. I was making my way back, I had a different podcast recording in southern Manitoba. And I stopped back but in your in your city and you know, and when I thought about having this conversation with you, I thought it is so relevant because, you know, everyone in so many states almost everywhere around the country is dealing with what you’re dealing with in your position. But you’re in one of these situations where you don’t have a lot of students, but they’re very spread out. And another challenge that I know, schools are always concerned with is making sure the kids are getting enough meals, like a lot of the meals are coming from the school. Is your school doing anything to help help the families that maybe kind of count on the meals that the kids would get at school?

Ryan Baron 14:51
I tell you Curt, I could talk for a couple hours on this stuff. Um, yeah. One of the per the mandate that came out from the governor on that Sunday was that We would provide meals and childcare to essential workers. So we had to figure those things out too. So, yes, we deliver meals, people signed up. And then what schools were told in Minnesota to do is to sign up for something called the Summer Food Service Program, which changes the rules a little bit on meals, you’re during the school day, you have to keep track of who gets what meal and free and reduced people are kept track of and the full price people in the Summer Food Service Program, when you sign up for that is you just keep track of how many meals you delivered with the thought that you’re going to get reimbursed for the number of meals and that gets them. So we were mandated then to sign up and when we did that, everybody aged two through 18 and the district is technically allowed to sign up for meals and so we what we’re doing is having our bus drivers to over to out of town people because we have a big district we have 450 square miles of district. Yes.

Curt Carstensen 15:56
450 square miles is that must be one of the largest state.

Ryan Baron 16:02
No funny. No.

Curt Carstensen 16:03
Oh, I suppose in northeastern Minnesota, you probably have some competition there for distance.

Ryan Baron 16:08
Yeah. You look at St. Louis County’s got a school district there are a couple thousand square miles on greenbush Middle river has got a bigger district roseau, a bigger district, I believe one of the bigger one of course, okay, we’re not the biggest, but we’re probably in the top, you know, 20% or so size wise. You get onto the cities and they’re like 18 square miles, 85 square miles. So yeah, we have a lot of meals still or two very few people saw our bus drivers that we took, we have four bus routes for bus routes. So we took two drivers and put them on one route to drive and put one on the other route. And we run those meals to people out of town. And then we have the because of meals have gotten to be such a demand. Every day we get more people that we now have the town people pick them up because we would be delivering forever. If we had made a gift to everybody at first it was only like 45 Over 50 meals or 50 stops or 50 kids, now it’s at 108. So it’s more than doubled. And so that’s what we had to go in the interim get picked up, and it’s been going well, we deliver today’s meal and tomorrow’s breakfast. So then we deliver two meals at once for each kid. And now we because we really this is going more long term and we don’t know if it’ll go past May 4 or not. But now we do. We’re doing two hot meals a week trying to mix it up. But Funny thing is, you know, some of the neighboring schools, a couple of neighboring schools are doing hot meals regularly. And I told our head cook you know, can we do some hot meals I said, Well, we can, but I can’t get the containers to deliver them. Because you like to take out boxes. You can order them they were already ordered, so we couldn’t get them. And so now she’s head cook has been very good about working on getting hot meals not delivered to mix it up. And we had commodity Turkey for two and a half weeks of commodity Turkey for lunch and it’s what it is and they’re free and they get them delivered. kids are eating. And, you know, one thing I told people because there was some that asked me, you know, I don’t want to sign up if it’s a burden. And I said, No, no, it’s not a burden we get reimbursed from the schools. Well, it’s not a burden plus here, think about this just in our little school alone. So you have, say, 100 meals delivered a day 100 people getting meals, times that by two pieces of bread, that’s 216 pieces of bread. How many loaves is that, that stay on our store shelves now that because people were having to buy food and pull those things off shelves? Now we have two food service, which is a whole different entity that provides food, that food stays on the shelves and the other one. We had a couple of people asking, could we just get milk because milk was in short supply and it still couldn’t be at some point. And so we said, No, you kind of take the meals but it brought up a concern that with all these people getting two things a milk a day that’s, that’s two cups of milk for each kid. Think of how many gallons of milk stay in our stores locally that don’t have to be bought for those kids that are now having to stay at home that normally would have been fed in school. So there’s some benefit, small benefit to our grocery stores that it keeps them food and shelter and those people who do need them when they can provide them.

Curt Carstensen 19:14
How far away is like the furthest point of delivery for for this this time, I suppose is maybe similar to your furthest point of picking up a student to come to school?

Ryan Baron 19:26
Well, what we did is one of the districts is 22 miles away one place that we went delivers 22 miles away, but the neighboring district where they live that in that district had agreed that they would provide the meals for them. In return, we provide two meals for their students that live in our town. And so it’s kind of a trade off in some schools are doing that like, you know, they’ll feed everybody in their district will feed everybody in ours and and then some of them are open and rolled out a district but we’ll just feed them and we one concern we had with that ideas because they’re There’s a couple kids that if we went that route, then that other district has meal pickup at locations where we deliver. And if we didn’t deliver, this kid would never get that meal because they’d have to go find a pickup spot. Here. We’re delivering to the house. So it ends up being well, that one’s like 18 miles away. It’s not terribly far but we deliver because their roles in our school and we’re gonna make sure everybody’s taken care for needs it. And if it means if them having to go pick it up means they won’t get that meal. No, we’re not. We’ll do it. We’ll do it because they’re part of our school.

Curt Carstensen 20:34
I’m gonna flash another question up here. It’s from my sister, Michelle. She’s wondering if there’s any cases have COVID-19 been in your county? And if not, do you believe your school could get back in session on May 4, like, what what is your standpoint on that? Or do you even really get an opinion at this point,

Ryan Baron 20:51
according according to the state of Minnesota Department of Health as of this morning, four o’clock yesterday, there were no confirmed cases in the county but I’m Not sure how many people have even been tested in the county. And you know, we have a clinic here we have a hospital in hell lock, a critical access hospital. I don’t even know how many tests they have available. But everyone knows. I don’t think the clinic has any testing wrong. Could school open up on May 4? It depends. When you find out that a lot of people are asymptomatic. And, you know, kids and sometimes don’t get it, adults sometimes don’t get a whole lot of symptoms. When you open up schools you’re in and you’re putting a lot of people even even if it’s 220 people plus staff so let’s say 250 people over the course of a day in a small building, touching things. Even if the kids don’t necessarily get sick, there’s a lot of people who are vulnerable that could get sick and I don’t know for sure if it’ll happen on May 4, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And do I think it’s a good idea to open it up yet. I don’t know. I I don’t I don’t know if the kids so much are the ones who are worried about getting sick. But when you take those kids and then you go home and see grandma and grandpa, I just don’t know. I would love school to be back and I also hope schools back I wish it was back now. But I don’t have the medical expertise even as a full fledged EMT. I don’t have the experience to tell you if it’s a good idea or not. And that’s why we have those medical professionals deciding

Curt Carstensen 22:26
what is the final day of school scheduled currently for your district.

Ryan Baron 22:32
Our final day of school

Curt Carstensen 22:34
of class like when when would it if things would have been normal? When would have your your session ended for the spring?

Ryan Baron 22:41
May 28. And last student workshop would be the 29th and then graduation be the 31st of May.

Curt Carstensen 22:49
So with about a month for sure of the distance learning it is it going well do you think it’s Are you think you can really judge how well it’s going Going if it is going well, does it then make sense just to finish off the year that way? Or if you’re sure it’s just it’s not nearly as good as the kids being in school. It’s like way worse. Do you push it and have them come back? There’s a bit, I guess now they’re doing it you have a better idea of, well, is this good enough to get through this year and then we start again next year.

Ryan Baron 23:18
I think our kids are doing about as good as it’s going to give for distance learning. There’s nothing that beats in house, teach that personal contact, having your pairs available, having your staff available. There’s nothing that beats that. assistance, learning is not ideal for anybody. Even for introverts, I don’t think it’s ideal for it. There’s nothing ideal about it. It’s it’s doing the job that we’re asked to do. And it’s about as good a job as it can do. It’s really hard for especially upper level to teach new concepts like I think of trigonometry. I can’t imagine teach trigonometry, distance wise with if a student struggles already being in house having the teacher at available at every hour. During that hour of every day, magic was like not being available to literally show them what to do and answer the question in real time. And it’s it’s not ideal, and I would obviously being in session is the ideal situation. We’re coming back be a good idea. Well, for the kids, why is he so I think also there’s some social stuff that’s going on to that. It’s benefits from the social aspect, and they’re missing that. So there’s the social side of it to them, that they would benefit. Now finishing out the rest of the year because you’ve already been doing it for a month I if we don’t have to, I would say no, get back to school if we can. But if it’s for people safety and health, then you need to keep them apart and continue out the year this way. How about for you, we’d love to be back in school. We want the kids back here if it’s safe for them to be back.

Curt Carstensen 24:52
How are you doing? Because you normally a normal day you’re seeing seeing the kids you see in the other members of faculty you’re interacting With a lot of people, it looks like you’re at the school building right now, but I can’t imagine many people are there, or is this your home? So I look like the school. I’ve been there once, but maybe I that you would have probably don’t have those types of ceilings and lights in your home. I’m guessing

Ryan Baron 25:16
this is the school. As far as me, I’m not the one that has to do all the hard work I do. Teachers are doing or staffer offices doing their thing and cooks are making the meals and bus drivers are delivering transportation guys figuring out package delivery and whatnot. The pairs are doing child care. I just make sure it’s all being coordinated at the first tell you the first few days were the hardest. Yes, those are tired because you had to make decisions. You had to try and do what’s right for the kids what you felt was best to make a decision. And you have to do a lot of there’s a lot of decision that had to be made, you know, targeted childcare, how we do the food service, how are we going to deliver these things, or get technology taken care of what what’s the process to do this all as efficiently as possible. And now that it’s all going there. It’s a big bulk of the stuff is on the teachers now because no one’s daily interacting with parents or answering the questions that kids have to work. They’re the ones and the parents and all that they’re the ones doing the hard work. Now, my job has gotten a little bit easier now that we’re kind of got this stuff figured out. But we do miss the kids. I think everybody misses them. You don’t get that in a daily interaction you look forward to and I’m generally an extrovert. So I enjoy walking around classrooms and seeing teachers and kids and I get to see that now you’re like summer, but can’t do anything like summer is cold out and there’s nobody doing anything. So it gets kind of lonely when you sit here and can’t really talk to a lot of people because I’m not here. But as far as job wise, it’s it’s now that things are kind of in place. Now. It’s just tweaking a little bit. But the hard part is done for this for administration. The parents and families and teachers now have the hard work.

Curt Carstensen 26:55
And what would you say for the community you’ve been? You were Math Teacher in the district for how many years was it? And then he left for a couple years and back now his principal and superintendent, small town, I’m sure there’s small businesses that are, are closed right now. Like what’s talking to people, if you even can talk to people, if you do talk to people in the community, like, what’s your sense of how people are reacting to these times? They’re in extreme Northwestern Minnesota where I think it’s much less it’s gonna, it would take longer for maybe the virus to hit a place like that. But then if it did, it could really be damaging to a place like that. Just give me a sense of the community.

Ryan Baron 27:37
Well, it’s, it’s about 760 people and it’s, you know, an older population isn’t nursing home and toners and assisted living and yeah, it’s, there’s some people that feel it should be open or some people feel it should be closed. You know, it’s 5050. What people’s beliefs are there are a few businesses close that you know, everybody seeing the headphones convenience store sees the head because people can’t come in, sit in and have their meals at noon they know it’s a pickup and go and before you go on there and noon in the place and couldn’t find place to park, it was so packed now. There is no can’t find anybody there partly because they’re picking up and leaving. And the volume isn’t the same. The grocery stores probably the only the grocery stores are the two places where the Dollar General in the grocery store the two places that are still pretty busy because people still need food. You know, we have a salon in town, a couple of different places do hair and they’re closed because it has to be. So it does affect people in this. Some places are still open. There’s a manufacturing place that makes a lot of eye track systems that are open yet, but I believe there’s some government contracts there that they stay open for and so it’s kind of hidden Miss. People are taking it straight out. Parents are worried about them because I was talking to a parent the other day and he said, Well, you know, I think schools do a good job. Over I think the work is okay. And but, you know, I go to work and I work eight hours and I come home and help my kids for three to four hours a night. By that time, then it’s about time to go to bed and then I get up and repeat. You know, it’s work, hope kids that repeat and it just all this daily, and I can’t do anything socially. So I don’t have any way to get out and kind of chill and relax. So it’s putting stress on families, regardless if you’re working or not, is putting stress on families. And I think that’s true of every tone. I think that’s true. You know, I read online where you’re talking about some mental illness, domestic stuff going on and depression. that’s a that’s a nationwide problem that’s going to come I think from some of this, people being stuck in their houses and not being to do anything socially. And now people are asked to educate their kids and work from home. In some cases, it’s just it’s a lot. It’s a big adjustment and a very short amount of time. It’s not like you had two months to prepare for this. You had eight days.

Curt Carstensen 30:00
Are you seeing any definite positives that are coming out of this, this new experience doing things differently that you think will help you? When the school and the community and life is kind of back to normal?

Ryan Baron 30:15
Yes, I see a couple. One, I see a lot of good parent teacher interactions. Because we mandate what we do the school mandates daily attendance, so you have to make attendance that way. But we also set the school here because we don’t want to overwhelm parents that we were going to do. weekly video chat or phone chat that every grade in elementary had to make phone contact weekly. So talk to your students find out how they’re doing, see if there’s any concerns. And then we have the high school advisors because every every grade has two advisors, so for the high school, that those advisors would make contact with their students. Once a week for the video, we’re on voice chat, so they could do the same thing. I’ve heard positive feedback on that overall that people seem to like that the kid seems like that keeps connection with the school and it gives, you know, we care about you know, kid is lost, we’ll have 220 kids, no kids lost. There’s no left behind here because everybody knows everybody. So I think there’s that’s a good thing and I’ve heard a lot of positive parent contact and some I hear the teacher talking to the parent more than the kid talks to the parent or to the teacher sorry. So the parent talk for 15 minutes and the kid will talk five and some of the kids are very excited to talk to the teacher because they really do miss them. The other thing that I think will come out of it as well we’ll find out what works and what doesn’t for distance learning and we’ll be prepared for the future if this happens again. And also we’ll have our snow days we think will be one small cognitive is I don’t know if we’ll have a makeup days for snow days like we ever had before. We had to come back at the end of May you know when absolutely is on I don’t know if we’re going to have to do that. Once this is done and tweaked. I think We’ll have better methods so on your snow days you maybe we’ll just have elearning days and we’ll never have to make them up again which should be kind of neat so that we had a lot of families like last year was a bad year for snow days and a lot of families had to cancel or modify their plans or be absent because say Easter Monday was supposed to be a day off we had to come back well now you can take it you after this you might you might have a better plan as to never have to do with that word you made your plans will make it work so that we have maybe a distance learning day that a small fee on Hawaii you can do your work from Hawaii and still get credit for for that day. So that’s a small positive but I do one big positive I’ll do like is teacher and parenting stay in contact is much better.

Curt Carstensen 32:45
It seems like it’d be a quite the opposite to get from Carlsbad to Hawaii, but maybe getting anywhere to Hawaii is quite the effort.

Ryan Baron 32:52
pretty cheap. Now you can get cheap tickets a one one airline was like 50 bucks round trip or for a one way ticket up to hold As What? Oh, was dirt cheap, you can go to Las Vegas like $34

Curt Carstensen 33:04
Well, there’s nothing open in Las Vegas. I mean, you could walk around the strip with everything closed down that might be kind of eerie and fun. couple more questions to throw out here. Ryan. One is from a person you’re familiar with. Do you have a plan formulated for graduation? If social distancing is still recommended from Doris Baron, your mother? Oh,

Ryan Baron 33:25
well, hello, Doris. And hello, Steve, I saw you as well. That’s something that we don’t know if we’re going to be Mandy. We’re one of the later graduations in northern Minnesota, southern Minnesota like the cities they have June graduation. So they got some time yet, but we’re one of the later ones up here. There’s a may 15. Graduation there’s a may 22. We’re we’re way late or may 31. So we make it a little bit of a leap, maybe have a little bit more options. And some of these other places. don’t know yet there’s talk about people driving around the streets, in their cars and around the communities and we have four communities. So So we’d have To figure something out for the four communities, the other thoughts, you know, depending on what, what distancing is still mandated. I thought a cool thing which I’ve always wanted to do was have graduation on like a football field, you know, and then maybe every family gets four tickets and spread you out. So you’re you can watch your kid and do some kind of modified graduation. But it’s a beautiful day outside that might be kind of cool. I don’t know if that’ll happen. But I’ve always wanted to have a football field graduation because it’s usually beautiful out and kind of fun to have an outdoor graduation. So I don’t know yet what we’ll do, we’ll do something. Just not sure yet. We’ll see this some ideas come on.

Curt Carstensen 34:40
An opportunity to be creative and either change the date change location, change the way of doing it, there’s no something good will come out of that I’m sure as well. We can get creative every once in a while.

Ryan Baron 34:51
And you’ll find they’ll be there’ll be some phenomenal ideas. There’s really smart people around in education and very creative people in industry. A lot of creative administrators and principals and teachers that are creative and that’s how you know the other the fourth element to that is parents their parents that throw some really crazy good ideas and someone will point us to a good idea if we don’t have it so I’m confident we’ll get something that will do as good a justice as possible for the kids.

Curt Carstensen 35:19
Have another comment here is going to totally change the subject but it’ll kind of revert back we we had a previous podcast episode I think it was number 11 for People I Know Show. And this question relates more to that from Lawrence, tell us about your latest ancestor find as when it comes to genealogy. Mr. Ryan Baron is the person that I know that is way more into that than anyone I’ve ever met. And you were you were doing it back when we were were kids and I think you still do it today. Do you find much time to put into that right now?

Ryan Baron 35:53
Well, Curt, I’m gonna tell you and Ardyce too, as Lawrence Ardyce Eckblad. Ardyce is one of the first people that ever I contact When I started doing family history, I remember going to her it was her aunt’s house and it was some birthday and she showed me her family tree maker program. And I was just enamored with that program. And so but Ardyce is a cousin of my cousin, we share the same cousins and so some of our family information is shared and she really was my start person to talk to so I’ve known Ardyce since I was in probably the probably fifth grade or so. But yeah, you’re on my program. And so as Ardyce, you guys are all on there. I have all of Browerville’s family tree that have collected over the years from various people are put on them. One thing I noticed with this COVID-19 I’ve received more emails from people that I’ve been connected with doing family history because they’re locked inside. What else do you do in the winter when you’re locked in but do family history and Now that everything’s online, but you find people are able to do a lot of stuff, so Ardyce I can go in like crazy I’ve done I’ll tell you my latest find, which is really crazy. I I was bored because I’m, you know, we’re in shelter and place. So I sit at home and I was like, Oh, I was just looking through one of my family might be my great grandma’s brother’s name was Herman. And just looking through stuff on there, and I just pulled up his ship manifest when I hit Save as a ship manifest. So I went and pulled it up in here, there was a name of a town and there was Rodenpois (Ropaži). And I just been contacted by another family member, because she’s also in the shelter in place, and she’s on the other side of the family. And she was telling me that, you know, we’re geography pros. We love geography send us anything, geography. So I’m like, all right, well, I’ll send it to you. So I gave me this name of this town. This record. She’s like, Yeah, I don’t think that’s what it is. I think it’s Rodenpois. I think. It’s like that town is not even in Germany. It’s in Latvia. And it’s like, it’s like, it’s like 40 miles east of LA, or Riga, Latvia. And So I go and pull out this the obituaries for these people. And sure enough, it says report and Riga, Latvia, like, oh, and I didn’t know this guy’s name was even right because it wasn’t spelt the same, but the date matched his immigration and a couple people he immigrated with, went to Jordan, Minnesota, which is in Scott County. So I’m like, I’ll give it a try. So she says the films here, go look it up. So go look up the film. Sure enough, there’s a guy his birth record. So this is my great, great grandma’s brother. So they move and I knew they went to Russia in 1862. And in 1863, he was born there. So yeah, that’s the right town crazy. So I keep looking through and there’s only the left side pages, so you’re missing half of the documents. So they go through. And here I find my great great grandma. She lived there too, and her sister did and her parents did all live in this place in Latvia. And I found that my great great grandma was married to this guy, which we knew that we didn’t know his name, his first name. Last name was Wilhelm Grumple well We knew it was Grumple well then he died and then she married my ancestor my great great grandpa his name was Wilhelm Schultz on this document was Wilhelm Schult so Okay, so I got his marriage record now it’s great. Well so then I go and start looking more and I find a couple more siblings Just as I thought that would be there what’s all great they’re all matching up great perfect. Clear is could read perfectly then great. Well then I find out keep looking. Here’s another Schult not spelled Schulz but Schult. And I go and look up and here’s just John and Louise Schult maiden name was Witt so look them up in here there’s a couple kids born a Theodore an Adolph a Carl and maiden name was Witt. Well I remember years and years ago when ancestry first started matching German records I found a Wilhelm Schult that was born in Mecklenburg Germany and birthday matched but the name didn’t match. But his parents are John and Louise as well in Germany. So I thought, you know What are the odds? So I go and pull the record up, I saved like four or five years ago. And guess what the mother’s maiden name was? Witt. That was her name. That’s the right record. Well, I’m not 100% Sure. So then I go and look up the birth of John and Louise and go and find the birth records. Well, then I remember even longer ago like 10 years ago, I wrote to Scott County to the historical society and there was a john and Louise Schulte that lived in Scott County that came over in like 1880. And I emailed them or wrote to them, I said, you know, do you have obituary for these people? Can you tell me anything about them? Nope, these aren’t your people. So, go on, pull out this book. I bought Jordan about 10 years ago now was about 15 years ago. And it had all the birth baptisms and death records for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jordan, which these Schult were German and the Kirkolz are German too. So I just pulled that out was looking through, I find the burial ready History for john short spelt different with two T’s. I find Louise Schult and they happen to put the maiden name on their maiden name Witt so they were there. So I am and I went from there their tombstones are online and their birth records matched exactly from the ones in Germany so I’m like, this is gonna be 99.9% sure this is true. So and this is correct so then but I can’t find the marriage registry that actually says Wilhelm parents were these look Johan and Luis they don’t have that yet, but it’s you know 99.9% sure that that’s true that this connection I needed so well that was my latest connection in addition to my other ones which are crazy and Ardyce might know about the Funffingers but we found them back in Czechoslovakia in our Bohemia. We got them back to the 1600s now so it’s pretty awesome.

Curt Carstensen 41:55
I have a hunch. I have a hunch Ryan whenever your days as a school administrator end that you will become some sort of an investigator private investigator something because you, you managed to track this thing down to a 99% certainty and it happened about 140 years ago, you’re looking back at these records.

Ryan Baron 42:14
These ones are Yeah, these ones are about 170 years. Of, the 1850s. And this happened in 1860. So yeah, it’d be about that time. And the Funffinger ones are even farther back. That’s a really unique name. But artists would know about that name. And I think my folks do to that name has come up and we found them kind of neat. We found them in in Bohemia now. And it’s really helped all these records are online.

Curt Carstensen 42:39
I just very recently, in fact, yesterday for the first time started listening to a podcast a couple episodes of My Favorite Murder, which I don’t usually get into these things, but they’re talking about incidents from a long time ago. And in some of these cases, so you talking about your genealogy made me think of this murder podcast, so you might actually enjoy that. Hearing the names and the people and what what the records indicate from that long ago involving murder, which isn’t good, but it’s interesting, I think many generations later just to hear how these things happen and, and why and how it was reported. It’s kind of fascinating.

Ryan Baron 43:15
I’ll tell you what I did. I was bored one time in winter and I went looked up the in Illinois, I was trying to find a death registry for like a third great grandparent to mine and I was looking up all the ways they die. And I was looking at their death registries and it’s amazing several things that happen to people back in like the 1870s and whatnot. Like, how many people took you know, there was people getting hit by trains, like how do you get hit by a train? And you know, they said accidentally hit by train. I don’t know how you get accidentally get hit by a train that’s in 1860. But a lot of people getting kicked by horses, tons and tons of drownings people drone like crazy back then. I mean, like it Yeah, there’s like five people that drowned in Illinois and like they’re in Lake Michigan and Lake Michigan, drowning Lake Michigan drowning, and there was some suicide by some really crazy ways. You know, some hang somewhere, took some weird acid stuff like chromatic acid or whatever it was. They’re just crazy. Some of the things that happen to people and a lot of kick back horses mauled by an animal. And so that was kind of an interesting thing to look at. Yeah. And when you do go through when I was younger, I would look through some of the records and taccone. And there’s some crazy things that happen to people too. And you won’t believe how many unknowns that were if you go to the youth section in any courthouse and look up the youth section. You’ll see there’s a ton of unknowns but that brings you up to another thing is that that genetic genealogy for solving crimes like that, that Golden State killer where they did genetic genealogy to whittle it down to three brothers, and then they did some looking and found out it was the one brother that did these these crimes. That was crazy. But the You know, genealogist see you don’t even have to, even if you were a perfect criminal, that you know and left just a little bit of DNA at all. You don’t even have to, you know, do much of anything. Now you get caught, you can have no record and they’ll find you by your relatives.

Curt Carstensen 45:16
Well, better not be criminals then Ryan, you better stop all your criminal conduct right now,

Ryan Baron 45:21
I guess. Well, I’m the only one that well, my genealogy, my ancestry DNA is so they give me right away.

Curt Carstensen 45:28
Ryan, let’s go to a final segment. I know you have other things to take care of. We’re going to do my personal growth segment because back the first time you’re on the podcast, I did not have this segment specifically. So if you can, probably based on what’s going on right now and what you’re learning about yourself, or maybe there’s another story that comes to mind. share a story about how you are continuing to work on yourself as a person, improve as a person and just try to be better in general, something come to mind.

Ryan Baron 46:00
Well, um, I guess, with all this stuff that’s come up, I’ve tried to take things a little slower. Everybody’s willing to want to jump the gun, like when this mandate came out, and everybody’s like, why, you know, we’re putting out this installer right now we want to get we already have that done. You know, I found out taking things slow, is the right, the better way for me to do it and to think it through before I come to a decision. Because sometimes when you when you go with your first impression, it’s not always the right one. And sometimes you need to stop and think and to ask more people for help. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for that. And I think of one person was talking, he said, Well, you know, I think this school you know, that guy did a great job. That administrator did a great job. And I think those are all great decisions, you know, there must be super smart for doing and then you step back and it’s like, that’s not what it is. Not all administrators are super smart, but they’re super good. At a good administrator is good at pulling together information and making a good decision based on what is what is being given to them for information. And, you know, even if your president or governor, our governor and our president General, and they’re saying, You don’t necessarily have to be the smartest person, but you have to be able to take the information given to you, I make a good decision based on that and trying to do more of that. I’ll ask him for more input. And I still make mistakes in that stuff too. But trying to do what you think is best based on the information you have and taking it slow. You know, if a person finds out at noon today, or they find out four o’clock today on give the same information, they’re gonna still do, they’ll be fine. You know what, you don’t need to be in a hurry to do these things, think them through. And I think that’s something that a wise administrator would grow into. And I The reason why I think that is there’s a local administrator that’s retired, and he’s a really good guy and he is so chill. It’s just great. I love talking to him because he’ll call you and you’ll kind of BS And he’s really he doesn’t move fast. And there’s some that are super fast you get this, I’m putting all this stuff, all this stuff is made. And he’s like, No, no, I’m just gonna take it slow. Think about it, and he does a good job. And that’s kind of his M.O. is, take it slow, Think it through, make sure it’s a good idea before you jump to that conclusion. And take, take your people around you that they’re smart, too. And make a good decision based on what people tell you what information you get from these people. And sometimes people on the front lines from teachers and stuff, I didn’t mandate necessarily what they should do. It’s all about get some inputs and find out what they think is best for their kids because they work with, you know, that’s on this particular situation and the teachers and the paras and whatnot, what works best for what you think, based on your students and what you know about them. So that’s kind of a cool thing that as an administrator, you take and learn over time, and I’m still learning by far learning. It’s, it’s every day you learn.

Curt Carstensen 48:57
I think as much as any point in you In recent history and maybe going back for a very long time, many decades, the the information that you’re consuming and how you use that to make a decision to make good decisions, where we’re gonna look back, or researchers, at least are gonna look back to this time, what, what countries, what states, what cities, who used good information and made good decisions that allowed their situation to come out the best. And so it’s important to really make sure that you have good sources with what you’re, who you’re who you’re getting information from. And that decision comes out that it’s very well thought out, not rushed. And it seems like you’re taking that approach.

Ryan Baron 49:40
Trying to in some cases, you can’t but trying to a little bit more. And this situation really did allow for it. There was no yet been eight days to do things so we weren’t rushed. And there was there was some urgency you wanted to start and get people on history. You know, we had some time and we really talked about what was best seems like an It’s worked for both good. It’s gonna work for us. We have good families, good kids, and we’re really lucky that overall, you know, people have taken in stride and we’re getting it done.

Curt Carstensen 50:12
Excellent Ryan, thank you for joining me today and I want to thank everyone that contributed some comments. I think Diana is the other person who said hello that I didn’t put that up onto the screen. And for anyone who has not listened to other episodes of the podcast or watch them you can click on to the People I Know Show Facebook page like the page scroll around there. Any podcast player or on YouTube search People I Know Show and you’ll have all the episodes including Episode 11 with Ryan so that one’s way back and they will see how far we’ve come. I haven’t listened to that one since we did it about a year and a half ago. So I don’t know.

Ryan Baron 50:48
I’ll tell you Curt if you ever want to do a genealogy show again. I would love to talk and that’s one passion I have in my free time. EMS is another one everyone enjoy talking about never looking for another time.

Curt Carstensen 51:01
Well, I can I can post a clip of our genealogy conversation today and see what kind of response that gets if if people are yearning for more we can do it, Ryan.

Ryan Baron 51:09
Sounds good.

Curt Carstensen 51:11
All right. Thanks, buddy. hope everything’s well up there for you.

Ryan Baron 51:13
Thank you. And you know, whenever you happen, Karlstad, again, we’ll show you step by step at school. Take you to the cake and I’ll get you some lunch.

Curt Carstensen 51:23
What kind of a friend would I be if I was in that city and wouldn’t stop and see you?

Ryan Baron 51:29
I’d be sad. But thank you for this opportunity. Appreciate.

Curt Carstensen 51:32
Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai