Retired superintendent Lynne Kovash loses cancer battle, remembered for love of learning
February 15, 2019
The community lost a lifelong Spud last night. Retired Superintendent Lynne Kovash has lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. Kovash died Feb. 14, 2019, after a 20-month cancer fight.
A service celebrating Kovash’s life will be at 11 a.m. February 23, 2019, at Trinity Lutheran Church. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. February 22 at Trinity in the Christian Life Center. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be directed to Moorhead Area Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1006, Moorhead, MN 56561-1006 for scholarships to graduates of Moorhead High School OR to the Moorhead Schools Legacy Foundation, P.O. Box 508, Moorhead, MN 56561-0508 for educational enhancements.
A 1970 Moorhead High School graduate, Kovash spent her entire career in education with Moorhead Area Public Schools. From 1994-96, she was a teacher on special assignment. In 1996-97, she became the assistant principal and transition coordinator at Voyager Elementary School. Following the closure of Voyager, Kovash served as an assistant principal and coordinator of the district’s gifted and talented program before becoming supervisor of planning and assessment.
Kovash served as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning from July 1999 until July 15, 2008, when she became the tenth superintendent of Moorhead Area Public Schools. Kovash retired in November 2017.
“Our thoughts are with the Kovash family during this time,” said Brandon Lunak, superintendent of Moorhead Area Public Schools. “Lynne’s passion for lifelong learning and her decades of commitment to the students of Moorhead Schools will be remembered.”
In October 2018 Kovash received two significant honors. She received the Polaris Leadership Award for a lifetime of achievement in education from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, and she was inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor.
Former Moorhead School Board chair Bill Tomhave described Kovash as a thoughtful, informed leader and an unapologetic advocate for all students. She demonstrated “time and again her willingness to share her vision and passion with students and community members,” he said regarding her selection for the Polaris Award.
During the Hall of Honor induction on Oct. 6, 2018, Kovash reminded the audience that it isn’t about the buildings, referring to the new schools that opened in 2017.
“It’s about what goes on inside those buildings that I hope becomes my legacy,” she said. “Thank you for making Moorhead my forever home.”
Kovash was named MASA Administrator of Excellence in 2017, received the Dennis R. Heitkamp Leadership Award from Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership in 2016, and was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus by MSUM in 2010.
Lauri Winterfeldt, director of Moorhead Community Education, remembers when Kovash spoke at a GED graduation.
“She used her life story to show how commitment to education led to personal and professional success for her and her family,” Winterfeldt said. “Lynne talked of the personal barriers she overcame to ultimately earn a PhD. The sharing of her own journey inspired everyone who heard it. She generously shared her experience to show those graduates, who faced many barriers of their own, that they too could dream big and reach their goals. She taught them that persistence pays off. I’ll always remember that night.”
Kovash earned her bachelor’s degree in language arts and secondary education and her master’s degree in special education from Moorhead State University, now Minnesota State University Moorhead. She obtained K-12 principal, special education director and superintendent licenses from Tri-College University, Fargo, N.D. Kovash completed her doctorate in educational leadership through the University of North Dakota in 2009.
Kovash served as president of Minnesota Association of School Administrators in 2014-15 and was a member of the Governing Board for AASA, the School Superintendents Association. She was active on all four MASA committees and was a member of the MASA Foundation Board.
Besides being a past president of Moorhead Rotary, Kovash was a member of the Minnesota Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, United Way of Cass-Clay, MSUM Foundation Board, and Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce. Kovash served on the Minnesota Department of Education Local Assessment and Accountability Advisory Committee, the MDE Assessment and Accountability Working Group, and on advisory committees for Tri-College University and MSUM. She also served on the Superintendent Advisory Committee for the national organization EdLeader 21.
Michelle Sailer, elementary art teacher, wrote on Kovash’s CaringBridge page this month.
“I learned that our time here on earth is limited and one must be brave and pioneering,” Sailer said. “You are a pioneer. Your legacy of expanding arts programming and community partnerships forever changed Moorhead Area Public Schools for the better. You are brave as well. In the face of pancreatic cancer you took on the beast and always found a nugget of gold in the midst of the storm.”