Thursday, December 12, 2019
Rick Muellenberg

Muellenberg takes over as new Middle/High School principal

The new Bangor Middle/High School Principal Rick Muellenberg is a Bangor veteran; this year will be his 22nd year with the district. 

Prior to going to college, Muellenberg enlisted in the United States Navy. Afterwards, he went back to school and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse (UWL) in 1993, majoring in Athletic Administration. 

He found that the field was a hard one to break into after interviewing with the San Diego Padres and a few other professional teams. 

He decided to continue his education by getting his master’s degree in Elementary Education from UWL. Muellenberg also has his Administration/Principal certification from Viterbo University and is currently working on getting his Superintendent Licensure from the University of Wisconsin - Superior. 

“I like learning anything that can help me with my current position,” he said, adding he doesn’t quite know yet if he has aspirations of becoming a superintendent in the future. 

Muellenberg began his teaching career in Viroqua as a Title 1 third grade teacher before he was hired in Bangor to teach fifth grade the following year. Muellenberg grew up in West Salem thinking he would end up living just about anywhere rather than close to home. 

“My wife and I had an agreement that whoever got a teaching job that they liked first, the other one would follow,” Muellenberg said. “Well, she ended up getting hired in Onalaska the year previous. I ended up getting hired in Bangor and I didn’t really know if I’d be here short term or long term. Now I know the answer.”

Muellenberg eventually began teaching at the middle school where he taught up until last year. Seven years ago, Muellenberg started running the district’s 660 iPads as well as teaching half time. 

Last year, he worked under the tutelage of former Principals Don Addington and Jac Lyga as the district-wide Assistant Principal. 

“I really love teaching at all levels and the different nuances at all of the ages, there’s just something special at each one,” he said. “I love interacting with the really little ones all the way up but I think eventually people end up finding what’s the best fit for them.”

Muellenberg cannot say enough good things about former Principal Don Addington, who officially retired in July. 

“I still have a ton of stuff to learn but I wouldn’t feel as comfortable as I do if it hadn't been for Don; he was phenomenal,” Muellenberg said. “I still contact him with questions because he is such a wonderful resource.”

Muellenberg chose to stay in the district because of its vision and the direction it’s going, with an emphasis on academics. Muellenberg’s goal is to help provide the teachers with the necessary tools to help both them and the students be successful. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing how I can help remove the barriers for our staff to do the best job they can to help our students learn,” he said. “I’m not going to reinvent the wheel because Don did a wonderful job. I’m hoping to not mess up what he did and then put my own touch on things.”

Muellenberg will also be stepping back into his role as head football coach this year. He had been coaching football in Bangor for 18 years before stepping down last year.

“I thought I was transitioning away from coaching football and into administration. It wasn’t because I don’t enjoy coaching, it’s just that there are only so many hours in a day,” he said. “After last season, all of the assistant coaches said, ‘we’ll all come back if you’re the head coach.’ I thought they were kidding. I really struggled with the love of wanting to do it, and the responsibilities of the principal position and not wanting to short-change either position.” 

Muellenberg’s top priority is his position as principal, but he feels that he has a top-quality coaching staff that he is comfortable leaving in charge if need be. 

“It gives me a great connection with a lot of the boys at our school,” he said. 

Muellenberg is looking forward to the start of a new school year and the daily interaction with students and staff. 

“It’s weird here during the summer because it’s so quiet. It’s not a school without the people; it’s just a building,” he said. “I look forward to them coming back when they’re eager, and everybody has their new school supplies and clothes and they’re excited to be back in school.”

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