As the new school year approaches, the Lac du Flambeau Public School welcomes Ben Fieck as its new principal. Fieck succeeds Ron Grams, who retired this past June after 31 years at LdF Public School.
Prior to becoming principal, Fieck served as the assistant principal since June 2018, but his history with the school and the area goes far before that.
When Fieck took up the reins as assistant principal in 2018, it was not only the beginning of a new phase in his career, but a homecoming.
“I ended up coming up here when I was five years old. My parents bought a grocery store that’s no longer in existence off of Hwy.70 and Co. Hwy. D,” Fieck said.
Fieck spent his first six years up in the Northwoods helping his parents work in the store alongside his four other siblings. After his parents sold the store, a couple of other business took over the space.
Fieck said the last business to take over, a fireworks store, burned down following an incident with the fireworks.
“That’s how I ended up here,” Fieck said.
He would attend Lac du Flambeau Public School during his kindergarten through eighth grade years.
“The majority of the time was at the old school, where the casino is now, and my class was the first class to graduate from this particular school in ’93 and ’94,” Fieck said.
While in school, Fieck played football, basketball, track, and in his eighth grade year, brought home a conference championship.
Fieck would later attend Lakeland Union High School, graduating in 1998. Like LdF Public School, Fieck participated in several sports, and played on several Lumberjack Conference Championship before it moved to the Great Northern Conference.
“We were Lumberjack Conference champions two of the four years that I was there,” Fieck said. “Football my junior year, we won the conference championship. We were ranked first in the state.”
During his senior year, Fieck was chosen as Lumberjack Conference Player of the Year in basketball.
Though Fieck had numerous scholarship in offers in different sports, his senior year in basketball lead him to play college basketball at Edgewood College in Madison.
Fieck went into Edgewood College knowing he wanted to major in education, but was unsure as to which subject he wanted to focus on. With a major in elementary and middle education (grades one through eighth), the choice not only gave Fieck the flexibility to pursue an area of study, but also the time to find out which subject are he was most passionate about.
“I initially thought history, so I started taking a lot of history classes for my minor, and I loved the classes, but as I progressed in that second year, I took a lot of science classes,” Fieck said. “And I’m like, ‘whoa, this is an area that I’m very interested in.’ So I switched my minor to science education and finished my degree, basically all the classes and all that in 2003.”
Fieck finished his degree that December, but had to complete his student teaching and graduated in January 2004.
Shortly after graduating, Fieck found a long-term position teaching at Blackhawk Middle School in Madison, where he also coached basketball, football, softball, and soccer at Blackhawk Middle School.
Fieck would spend the next 10 years teaching in the Madison district before becoming the Dean of Students at Madison East High School until 2018.
“It was a lot, but overall, I just gained so much, a huge variety of leadership or school administration experience,” Fieck said.
When the assistant principal position opened in the spring of 2018, Fieck knew he wanted to apply.
Returning to LdF Public School in 2018 would bring about many familiar faces, either through his colleagues or the parents of students.
While serving as assistant principal, Fieck was mentored by Grams.
“The old principal here that I took over for, Ron Grams, I actually had — this was before he was principal, he was my science teacher,” Fieck said.
As a gift, Grams gave Fieck an enlarged copy of the all-conference championship photo to put in his office.
“When I moved into this office, that wall was bare,” Fieck said.
Looking back, Fieck said though he’d make some minor changes, there’s not much he’d change.
“I’m happy with the choice and the path that I took, I’ve had nothing but great experiences, particularly at this school,” Fieck said. “It’s great to come back home.”
Looking forward, reflecting back
One of the things Fieck is most looking forward to is building relationships with the students, their parents and guardians, the staff, and the community.
“I’m looking forward to really, not only growing more professionally, but also we’ve got a lot of exciting things on the horizon,” Fieck said.
Fieck said Grams had shown him around in his first few days back at the school in 2018 and introduced him to community members.
According to Fieck, Grams took him under his wing and showed him the ins and outs of the community and the staff.
“He was nothing but a positive role model and influence on me, and I can’t say enough about him and can’t thank him enough for really showing me the ropes and helping me prepare to be where I am right now,” Fieck said.
Since returning to LdF Public School, Fieck has noticed a lot of changes and a lot of growth.
Overall, Fieck said he saw a lot of changes and development in the programs the school offered, especially in terms of incorporating more culture into the school.
While the school did offer Ojibwe language when he attended, Fieck said the program had expanded. Since his years at LdF Public School, the school implemented the Seven Grandfather Teachings, as well as monthly pow wows tied into each of those teachings.
From his roots in Lac du Flambeau to becoming the principal of the very same school he graduated from, Fieck reflected on his journey and how he got where he did.
“If you could predict the future, 26 years ago did I think I would be back here and be principal? I would never would’ve imagined that,” Fieck said. “But it feels awesome. I’m so happy to be back.”
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]