Homburg brings small-town expertise to superintendent role
In a quiet office off an empty, carpeted hallway at the Marion-Florence school district office, new superintendent Aaron Homburg knew exactly what he missed most about teaching.
“The interaction every day with kids,” Homburg said. “I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and building those relationships with kids that come into your class.”
Homburg has spent his career in education as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent at small-town Kansas schools. He said he is still learning names of the over 500 students at Marion — over three times the number of his last school district.
“One of the biggest adjustments for me, this is the first time in 24 years I don’t have kids in my building,” Homburg said. “I’m used to seeing kids daily, so I try to get out and into the buildings if I can. I enjoy being around kids, seeing them learn, seeing them grow. Same with coaching.”
Homburg, who can be seen Friday nights pacing the sideline at Marion High School football games, is adjusting to not coaching. Instead of calling plays, he observes.
“I like seeing the interaction between the coaches and kids, and the kids and kids out on the field,” he said. “When you’re there, you just feel the intensity of every play, the highs and lows.”
Since graduating from Weskan High School in 1989 and attending Colby Community College and Bethany College, his entire school career has been at small-town districts.
“I believe that every small community — every community — has the opportunity to do great things with kids,” he said.
He taught social studies for nine years at Winona-Triplains and coached football, basketball, and track. In 2004, he took an elementary principal job at Natoma, and in 2005 his position was combined with superintendent. His last three years at Natoma were as superintendent and principal of preschool through 12th grade. He also coached football and basketball.
He and wife Nichol have three children, KaiLee, who attends Kansas State University, August, who helps the family raise Labrador retrievers and officiates at athletic events, and Terran, who attends University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Both of his parents were music teachers, as is his brother. Homburg himself played trombone. His brother taught at Marion from 1998-00.
“He spoke extremely highly of the community and of support groups at school for kids and the faculty,” Homburg said.
Homburg said Marion is a good-sized town with a wonderful location. The last town he lived in did not have a grocery store.
“I chuckle when I hear people say Marion is a small town,” Homburg said. “It’s all relative.”
Homburg said he supports extracurricular involvement.
“Anything athletics, as well as fine arts, all extracurricular activities teach kids so much more than just that sport or just singing or just acting,” he said. “It’s being a part of a team, it’s learning how to survive in the real world. You have to learn to get along with people. You have to be willing to be part of a team, do what you’re supposed to do, do a role.”
Another benefit of small-town schools is the opportunity for students to be involved in more activities, he said.
“Kids have the opportunity to participate in whatever they would like to participate in,” Homburg said. “They don’t have to choose one sport.”
Homburg listed off several strengths he has seen in his first few months with the district.
“We have a very good faculty, we have very good kids, we have very good community support, we have phenomenal facilities,” Homburg said.
He also cited strong ACT scores and high national school rankings.
“Our ACT scores are on the rise while the national trend is down, and I think that’s awesome,” Homburg said. “The thing to remember, ACT scores speak to the whole system, from the start until they’re seniors. That’s everybody involved. And that also shows the kids’ willingness to learn and want to get better.”
He said he sees no glaring weaknesses, but there is always room for improvement.
“I am not the type of person who will come in and change things overnight,” Homburg said. “I think that’s a recipe for disaster. You have to learn how things have went and build those relationships.”
He said community support is vital for strong schools, and Marion has both.
“Marion is a great community and a great school,” Homburg said, “and to come in and be a part of that and mold and nurture for years to come, that’s exciting.”
Last modified Oct. 5, 2017