“The golden rule is something that I’ve always kept near my desk when I began my career as a principal,” Kindle said. “I’ve got it near my desk now. There’s a lot of truth to treating others the way you want to be treated. We can inspire kids and keep them on that kind of course – to treat each other with respect and be nice – because you just never know who you’re going to run into and what a difference that will make in their life. People don’t forget that.”

Kindle began his career with the Yankton School District in 1991 as a sixth-grade teacher. Shortly after starting in the district, Kindle’s principal recognized his potential as a leader.  

“I was teaching, and I had a really good principal at the time who said I should consider school leadership,” Kindle said. “So, I did that, and I have never looked back.” 

Kindle went on to receive three advanced degrees from USD including a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration and Leadership-Superintendent, an Education Specialist in Educational Administration, and a Master of Arts in Elementary/Middle Level Administration. 

“I had heard really positive things about the educational administration division at USD. I set up a meeting with Dr. Philip Vik, and within the first 20 minutes I felt like this was going to be a great experience for me,” Kindle said. “Dr. Vik was just incredible. He was so passionate about education and was an excellent mentor and person. He was the reason why I not only completed my master’s but went on to pursue my doctorate, as well.”

Mentorship is a steady thread that has been weaved through Kindle’s career. 

“Very honestly in my high school years, and even in middle school, I had a couple of teachers who really impacted my life more than I realized at the time,” Kindle said. “As I got older and looked back, I realized those two teachers in particular had a strong impact at different times in my life.”

Kindle said that providing that same kind of impact for students was a main reason why he decided to pursue education as a career. 

Throughout his decade as superintendent, Kindle has achieved several of his goals to improve the Yankton School District including providing tuition-free preschool and free in-town bussing and partnering with the Boys and Girls Club for student programming. Some of his other ongoing or in-progress goals include building a new early childhood development center, improving math/reading scores and providing his staff with as many resources as possible to help them be successful. 

His goals and achievements are a direct reflection of why he enjoys being a superintendent. 

"You have the opportunity to work closely with staff, community members, administrative teams, parents and the school board to make significant changes to impact students,” Kindle said. 

Kindle also took a moment to reflect on the state of education in South Dakota.

“We have some real positives in providing a solid education with limited resources, building on partnerships within our own communities for workforce internships and growing our own, which are both trademarks of the Yankton School District,” Kindle said. 

However, he acknowledges there are some challenges. “We have challenges with funding, staffing shortages in teachers, custodial staff, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, administration, and a need for getting the word out there that education is a wonderful profession,” Kindle said. 

“Education is a very special profession,” Kindle continued. “You have the opportunity to really change a life for students. There are challenges in all professions, but education will provide many rewards. I also don’t regret my path of teaching, being a principal at both middle and high school level for nearly 20 years and then moving into the superintendent’s leadership role.”

Kindle sees USD filling the need for more educators in several ways.

“USD is working directly with schools in the state, thinking out of the box, and creating partnerships to combine resources to make things happen in the education profession,” Kindle said. “They also reach out to their donor base to raise more scholarship money for those entering the teaching profession.”

The Yankton School District partners with many teacher residents from USD, Kindle said. “USD education majors have a great understanding and training in the education profession,” he said. “Many share the great Midwest work ethic, honesty, integrity and passion for education.” Kindle also stated that many members of the Yankton School District administrative team are USD alumni.

When reflecting on his own time at USD, Kindle’s commitment to creating positive professional relationships shines through. 

“I had such a great experience at the U. The Division of Educational Leadership was absolutely phenomenal. I had absolutely wonderful professors, and I built a lot of lifelong friendships,” Kindle said. “My favorite memory of USD is taking summer courses and meeting some wonderful educators doing the same thing – working on their advanced degrees in school administration. I have stayed in contact with many of them over the years and have actually worked alongside some of them in various capacities."

Wayne Kindle at a family gathering with his children and grandchildren during the holidays.

As a born and raised South Dakotan who has lived in the state for the majority of his life, Kindle has nothing but wonderful things to say about its people. “The people in South Dakota understand the value of hard work, being good neighbors, providing our young people with a quality education, growing our own and living in a state that really does cherish the importance of rural America,” Kindle said.

Kindle currently resides in Yankton with his wife Marjorie. He is a proud father and grandfather and will continue his career as Yankton School District superintendent.

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