New superintendent welcomes students back to school

Since taking the helm in July, Wessington Springs Schools superintendent Dr. Michael Ormsmith has been busy learning district logistics, meeting with faculty, staff and school board members and getting to know the small community at the foothills he and his family now call home.  

“My wife and I have lived in Virginia most of our lives,” he said of his spouse, family physician Dr. Jessica Ormsmith, who began providing care to patients this month at Horizon Health Care’s Jerauld County Community Health Center. “We worked and lived in an area with a population north of 350,000. Once we had kids, we looked for opportunities to spend more time with them.”
 
As their daughters grew, the Ormsmiths found themselves moving to smaller and smaller communities that better aligned with the lifestyle they sought as they raised their two daughters, Felicity, a sixth grader and Darcy, who is in seventh grade. 
 
“We liked the relationships we found in smaller towns and the fact that residents had more say in what goes on in the local area,” he said, adding that the decision to relocate elsewhere came to a crux in March 2020. “Virginia’s and South Dakota’s  approach to the pandemic were very different. We like South Dakota’s approach better.”
 
The couple became more and more interested in becoming part of South Dakota life and Dr. Ormsmith began looking for opportunities in various South Dakota school districts through a recruitment firm. He said he immediately secured two interviews for school superintendent and ended up being the second choice for the districts both times. 
 
Then Wessington Springs called.
 
“I genuinely had fun during the interview, I saw eye-to-eye with the board,” he said of his series of interviews with the Wessington Springs School District. “I also had a chance to drive around with Mayor Brian Bergeleen and fell in love with the town. I asked Brian why he lives here and he responded, ‘it’s quiet, safe and full of good people.’ That really resonated with me.” 
 
Dr. Ormsmith explains that Wessington Springs is 10% the size of the previous community in which they lived. 
 
“And we love it,” he said with enthusiasm, “Everything is so close and convenient. We were able to take in all the Fourth of July events, we enjoyed Music in the Garden and we’ve been trying to go to as many community events as we can.”
 
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