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New Venture Elementary principal ready for work

When Venture Elementary opens this fall on the south end of Tea, Jay Swatek will welcome students as the new principal.

Swatek comes to the Tea Area School District after three years as the elementary principal in Flandreau. Before that, he spent two years at West Central as the activities director and the assistant dean of students for the middle and high school. Prior to that, he taught fifth grade for 10 years in Garretson and one year in Parkston as a fourth grade teacher.

He grew up on a farm near Wagner and graduated from Wagner High School in 1993. He earned his bachelor’s degree in athletic training from South Dakota State University and worked as a physical therapy aid after graduation until he decided to return to school for his education degree at Dakota Wesleyan University.

“I didn’t want to be an aid at a hospital my whole life. I had that urge to go back into education, just as well finish it off,” he said.

When he was at SDSU he had thought about getting an education degree, but decided to finish his athletic training degree. He always had an interest in education, but it took a little while to decide on that.

“My mom had an in-home daycare for almost 20 years. Three of four siblings are in education with my brother being an administrator as well,” he said.

Swatek’s sister teaches in the same district as their brother.

He got his master’s in school administration from the University of Sioux Falls. While he enjoyed being a teacher, he likes to reach students in different ways as an administrator.

He is looking forward to opening the new elementary and the challenges that come with it.

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