Phoenix Academy of Arts and Science, a free and public charter school in North Branch, is happy to welcome James Gagner as its new principal and executive director. 

Gagner started at Phoenix Academy July 1, and is excited to be serving the students and families of Phoenix Academy.  

Gagner has a great love for small schools and firmly believes in schools of choice. He comes to Phoenix Academy from the Marshall School District where he served as an assistant principal, principal, and English language coordinator.  

Gagner is entering his eighth year of school administration. He still considers himself a teacher at heart, as he spent 17 years in the classroom, 15 of which were in first grade. 

He is the proud father of two daughters, Tiffany Ann and Ariel Grace.  

“James Gagner is a perfect addition to Phoenix Academy,” said board chair Jarrod Hamlin. “He has a passion for education and lots of experience that he brings with him. He will do things in an ethically solid manner because of what he has been taught during his 30 years in the Air Force, and he values relationships and will work toward maintaining positive working relationships throughout the community.”

board members added

This summer the board of directors welcomed two new members: Maggie Holmes and Joe Worwa. 

Holmes is a parent representative on the board, as well as the secretary. She is a North Branch graduate and seven-year Army National Guard veteran. She and her husband have two children, one that will be entering her second year at Phoenix Academy. 

Holmes has an AAS degree in child development from St. Paul College and has run her own in-home daycare for the past nine years. She enjoys anything outdoors, including camping, archery and skydiving. 

Joe Worwa graduated from Minnesota State University with a degree in marketing and received his teaching license from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He enjoys spending time with his family and likes to play golf and guitar. His favorite subject to teach is math, and he enjoys traveling and learning new things.  

Worwa teaches 5th and 6th grades at Phoenix this year. 

Hamlin welcomes Holmes and Worwa to the Phoenix Academy board, and applauds the board members for their servant hearts.  

At this time, the Phoenix Academy is currently looking for one parent member and one community member who are committed to the success and future of Phoenix Academy.

For those interested in joining the board or know of someone who may be, contact Mr. Gagner at  

The board, Gagner, and the rest of the school’s staff have been working very hard over the summer to continue building a solid foundation for the future of Phoenix Academy. 

For more information on the school or to enroll, go to or email 

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