The Winona Area Public Schools will welcome incoming superintendent Annette Freiheit with an open house event July 9 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Whalen’s at Westfield.

Freiheit is coming to Winona after three years leading Pine City Public Schools in east central Minnesota. She will begin the position July 1.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Winhawk team and community,” Freiheit said in a Friday release. “I am looking forward to working with the staff, school board, students, parents and community in continuing the district’s journey toward excellence and success for our students and community.”

The welcome event is open to the public and is meant to encourage informal introductions and conversation with the new superintendent.

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Freiheit, a 1983 Winona State University graduate, worked as an elementary principal in Hayward, Minn., prior to becoming a superintendent. As principal, she took the coursework for the reading teacher licensure to help her better understand why children were struggling to read and how teachers could help. In Pine City, she rode all of the district’s bus routes to familiarize herself with the landscape and personally meet each bus driver.

During her final interview for the WAPS job, at which she bested two candidates from a Wyoming school district and from Pelican Rapids, school board members praised her collaborative leadership style and enthusiasm for learning about the community around her.

Freiheit will succeed outgoing superintendent Rich Dahman, who was with the district for two years and will depart June 30. He is a finalist for a superintendent position in the Milton school district in Wisconsin.

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Madeline Heim covers K-12 & higher education in Winona. A 2018 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she previously interned at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the suburban community arm of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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