This area has always felt like home for Dr. Annette Freiheit.
Freiheit, who officially became the Superintendent of Winona Area Public Schools on July 1, 2019, is a Wanamingo, Minn., native. She holds two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s from Winona State University. For more than 25 years, she was an educator, administrator and principal in southeastern Minnesota schools.
And now, she is the leader of one of the region’s largest school districts.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead WAPS and to work with the school board, staff, students, families, and community in continuing the district’s commitment to excellence,” she said.
Freiheit was approved in a unanimous vote by the Winona Area Public Schools Board of Education at its May 16 meeting. She is the first female to serve as permanent superintendent of Winona Area Public Schools.
“In my doctoral studies I did a study of Ella Flagg Young, the first female superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, and studying her life developed my interest in studying women and the school superintendency,” Freiheit said. “It also ignited my desire to become a school superintendent.”
Freiheit was most recently the Superintendent of Pine City Public Schools in Pine City, Minn., a school district of approximately 1,600 students in east-central Minnesota.
The rest of her career was spent in southeastern Minnesota. She was an elementary school principal in the Hayfield School District for 14 years. She also served as an elementary school teacher in Hayfield, the Curriculum and Testing Director in Stewartville, the Graduation Standards Director for Fillmore Central Public Schools and an elementary teacher for Kenyon-Wanamingo Public Schools.
Although she eventually followed a path in administration, Freiheit has never stopped learning. Prior to earning a Doctorate in Education from Hamline University in 2017, Freiheit also completed the coursework for Hamline’s K-12 reading licensure program to better understand how students learn to read and how she could support teachers in best practices for effective reading instruction.
“I am truly a life-long learner,” she said. “I have an insatiable curiosity and thirst for learning so that I can be excellent at whatever it is I am doing. I seek to be a role-model for life-long learning for our staff and students.”
She has also participated in the Aspiring Superintendent cohort through the Minnesota Association for School Administrators (MASA), and the National Superintendent Certification Program with the American Association for School Administrators (AASA). Throughout her career, she has participated in professional development pertinent to the position she is in.
Freiheit has a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Winona State University as well as two bachelor’s degrees — one in Elementary Education and another in Recreational Therapy.
She is licensed in Minnesota as a District Superintendent, Principal (K-12), Coach (grades 7-12) and Elementary Education (grades 1-6).
In 2018, she received the Minnesota Association of School Administrators Region VI District Leadership Award.
In addition to being a superintendent, she is also a wife and mother of three children. Her husband, Dean, is a co-owner of a business in Rochester. They have a daughter and two sons. Kate lives and works in Charlotte, N.C.. Clint and his wife, Brooke, live and work in Boise, Idaho. Sam, their other son, lives and works in Rochester.