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New Wynot Superintendent to bring varied experience back to hometown

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WYNOT — Paul Hans is coming home.

The 1982 Wynot High School grad will be as incoming superintendent after Jeff Messersmith retires at the end of this academic year.

“Home always called me. It’s always been this magnet that’s always pulled me back,” he said.

After graduating from Wynot, Hans spent a year or so in Norfolk before moving on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he received his bachelor’s degree in education. He later achieved his master’s degree in education administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

He’s been in education for 30 years, serving in a variety of roles from principal and school improvement consultant to instructional technology coach and career education coordinator. He’s taught History, Social Studies and Government - all primarily in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area.

When he looks back over his accomplishments, he fondly thinks of the improvements he was a part of at Roncalli Catholic High School.

“That was probably the most rewarding because we raised money. We found ways to create programs for kids and really expanded some facilities that really made that little school shine,” he said, including the building of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics lab and student center.

He’s also especially proud of his work to establish a Trade Works academy in Council Bluffs in which students learn employable skills in mechanics, construction, electrical systems, plumbing and HVAC/ refrigeration, and fabrication and welding.

“It’s not Just about a four-year degree anymore,” Hans said. “You can make as much money as a plumber or electrician and be very well off in your future ... Four-year college is not for everybody and we shouldn’t force it on everybody.

The Wynot position will be Hans’ first time in the role of superintendent.

“I’ve had the opportunity to serve families and schools in a lot of different ways. All those experiences have prepared me for this moment,” Hans said. “I’ve got a lot of great experiences that I’m hopefully able to bring back and build upon what Jeff (Messersmith) has already done.”

Knowing the community and already having some of the key relationships in place will allow Hans to hit the ground running.

“Job 1 is what can I do to expand upon what we’re already doing and increase our enrollment, increase our achievement and create opportunities for our students,” he said.

Hans said he’s fortunate to be able to return to the area. As superintendent, he wants to support the community so students never leave in the first place like he did.

“We have three exports in Cedar County: cows, corn and kids,” he said. “We don’t want to export our kids. We want them to stay and have opportunities. I like to say, ‘If we build it, they will stay.’ And if we can do things and give people reasons to stay, that’s going to help everybody.”

Being able to come back to the area has Hans excited about re-connecting with family and friends. His brother still operates the family farm west of town and Hans is eager to help.

“I still have a lot of farm kid in me,” he said.

And he’d like to get together with three other average guys. Yes, Hans is one-fourth of the band Four Average Guys - a group of classmates and friends all from the Hartington and Wynot areas. The group played classic rock covers for about 10 years with Hans as the drummer.

“I imagine there’s some opportunity for us to dust off our instruments and play again somehow,” he said with a chuckle.

For now, he’s content focusing on his upcoming role and getting back to his roots.

“If it was any other place that had a superintendent opening, I wouldn’t be doing this but it’s Wynot,” he said. “It’s home.”

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