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President of Fargo's Oak Grove Lutheran School announces resignation, says it's 'the right time' to step down

Mike Slette said in a letter to parents that his resignation will take effect at the end of the first semester this coming Jan. 15.

Michael Slette
Oak Grove Lutheran School President Michael Slette will resign as of Jan. 15.
Special to The Forum
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FARGO — The president of Oak Grove Lutheran School has announced that he will resign effective Jan. 15, 2022.

In an email to Oak Grove families on Tuesday, Dec. 21, Michael Slette said the time was right for him to step back from his post and focus on his family.

"It is with mixed emotions and deep gratitude that today I announce my resignation as President of Oak Grove Lutheran School effective at the end of our first semester, January 15, 2022," he wrote. "In pondering this decision, I have come to accept that I will never be fully satisfied my work in shaping the future of Oak Grove is complete. Although I will always be part of the Oak Grove community, I believe the time is right for me to step back from my role as President to focus on family and whatever else the Lord may call me to do.

"In so doing, I revel in the incredible opportunity God laid before me in the summer of 2011 to join a most amazing group of people to extend the rich heritage of Oak Grove," he wrote.

Sher Thomsen, chair of the Oak Grove Board of Regents, said Tuesday that she will work with Slette through the transition. She said the board intends to have someone named to take over from Slette by Jan. 15, but the board has not determined who that will be.

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“We were so very appreciative of all that he’s been able to accomplish during his service,” Thomsen said. “We want to respect that the time was right for him to step back from his role (and) focus on his family.”

She said a celebration of Slette’s tenure will be held, but a date for that event has not yet been set.

“He’s done such a wonderful job, and we want to continue to build on what he’s built,” Thomsen added.

Slette said in an interview Tuesday evening that he had thought about moving on from Oak Grove for a while. He noted the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on people, and he praised the school for managing to get through it.

He also indicated that Oak Grove might be in for another period of change.

“In conversation with the board, (there was) just the recognition that there’s some big things ahead of us, and maybe this is just the time to say ’OK, leave it better than you found it,’" Slette said. "It feels like a celebration right now. It just seemed like the right time."

While it may be the right time, Slette said he will miss the people at Oak Grove.

“Not only just staff, but the whole Oak Grove community. It’s a pretty special place that way,” he said. “We talk about shared values, and the first one on our list is relationships. It clearly belongs as No. 1 on the list because this is a place built on relationships.”

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At age 65, Slette said he hasn’t decided if it is time to retire, but he’s looking to spend some time with children and grandchildren who live in four different states.

“I’m not old, and I’m healthy,” he said. “If the Lord has another plan for me, I’ll certainly listen.”

Slette is the school's 11th president.

In his email, he praised faculty and staff for their "talents, love, caring and commitment to our students," which he called a gift from God.

"From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of them for the privilege of working alongside them these past ten years," he wrote.

Oak Grove teaches children pre-kindergarten through high school on two campuses. The original campus with its middle and high schools is at 124 North Terrace just northeast of the city's downtown. The South Campus at 2720 32nd Ave. S. houses the early childhood center and elementary school.

Slette said he was grateful for the opportunity to have been part of several achievements, including increasing enrollment from around 400 students to over 700, expanding the elementary school in 2014 and helping the school become debt-free in 2019.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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