Council Bluffs taps outside and home-grown talent for administrative posts | Education

Council Bluffs Community School District has pulled together outside and home-grown talent to fill about a dozen administrative openings for the 2022-23 school year, including a new position being added to the district’s secondary schools.

The district is creating an additional assistant principal position at each of three schools — Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson High Schools and Wilson Middle School, Chief Communications Officer Diane Ostrowski said Tuesday.

However, two of those additions are being offset by reductions in other areas, and the third is being funded through a federal grant.

Teachers, classroom strategists and an instructional technology coach will join the ranks of experienced administrators from inside and outside the district to lead schools during the coming year. Below are the appointees announced since spring.

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Crescent ElementaryDevin Schoening has accepted the position as the new Crescent Elementary School principal. Since 2020, he has served as the K-12 Virtual Academy coordinator and was embedded at Crescent as the host site for the district’s elementary Virtual Academy program. He has served since 2010 as a districtwide instructional technology coach and continuous learning specialist. He has also been a teacher and varsity athletic coach within the Council Bluffs Community School District since 2002. He earned his bachelor’s in secondary education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his master’s in education leadership from Creighton University.

Franklin ElementaryFormer Omaha Public Schools Principal Charla Johnson has joined the Council Bluffs Schools as the new principal at Franklin Elementary School. She replaces Jerri Larsen, who will be an assistant principal at Wilson Middle School. Johnson has been an elementary principal since 2010. Prior to that, she was an assistant principal and instructional facilitator. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from UNO, as well as her administrative endorsement, and an ELL endorsement from Concordia University.

Lewis & Clark ElementaryFormer Rue Elementary School first grade teacher and classroom strategist Janelle Valla will be the new principal at Lewis & Clark Elementary School. She will succeed JoAnna Letz, who will be the principal at Wilson. She has been in the district and at Rue since 2013, adding classroom strategist to her role in 2017. She has her bachelor’s in elementary education with endorsements in reading and language arts from the University of Iowa and a master’s in educational leadership with an endorsement in administration from UNO.

Former Wilson Assistant Principal Zach Pope is the new Roosevelt Elementary School principal. He is replacing Brett Abbotts, who has taken a new position in another Iowa school district. He has been at Wilson for three years and had served as lead teacher in the district’s summer school program. He taught high school special education at Thomas Jefferson High School. Pope earned his bachelor’s from UNO and holds a master’s in educational administration from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a master’s in special education from Morningside College.

Former Edison Elementary School first grade teacher Courtney Cronk is the new principal at Rue. She succeeds Casey Moran, who is now the assistant director of special education for the district. Cronk has been a teacher in the district and at Edison since 2014, first teaching preschool and then first grade, while serving in building and district-level leadership capacities. She has her bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education from Iowa State University and master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction, as well as educational leadership, from Doane University.

Former Lewis & Clark Principal JoAnna Letz has accepted an offer to be the new Wilson Middle School principal. Letz will be familiar to many Wilson families, since she served as a Wilson assistant principal from 2016-18 and as a Thomas Jefferson assistant principal from 2018-2021. She has been with the Council Bluffs Schools since 1997. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa.

Jerry Larson has been a school principal since 2004, serving Gunn, Crescent, Walnut Grove and Franklin, and also served as an assistant principal at Kirn Middle School. Larson is now an assistant principal at Wilson.

Former Abraham Lincoln High School social studies teacher and classroom strategist James Larsen is now an assistant principal at Wilson. He will replace Zach Pope, who will be the principal of Roosevelt. He has been with the district at Abraham Lincoln since 2008, serving as a teacher, instructional coach and school assessment coordinator. He earned a bachelor’s in secondary education from Buena Vista University, a master’s in education from Morningside College and a master’s in educational leadership from Northwest Missouri State University.

Former math instructional coach Cristi Midkiff at Rue Elementary is now an assistant principal at Wilson. She will replace Alison Kennedy, who is moving out of the area. Midkiff has been with the Council Bluffs Schools since 2009, serving as a classroom teacher, then as a full-time instructional coach beginning in 2014. She had previously taught in the Omaha Public Schools. She earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from Buena Vista and her master’s in educational leadership from Doane College and has an English Language Learner endorsement.

Thomas Jefferson High School

Former Wilson Principal Michael Naughton is the new principal at Thomas Jefferson. He has been with the district since 2000, has taught at the elementary and middle school levels, and served as the Wilson assistant principal and as Edison principal before becoming the Wilson principal in 2019. He holds a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from UNO .

Former Thomas Jefferson English language arts teacher Samantha Schreier is now an assistant principal at TJ. She is replacing Kourney Abbotts, who has taken a position in another Iowa school district. Schreier has been with the Council Bluffs at Thomas Jefferson since 2013, serving as a classroom strategist and teacher. She earned her bachelor’s in secondary education from the University of Nebraska, her master’s in English from UNO and her specialist in educational leadership from Northwest Missouri State.

John Schultz will serve as the assistant principal of academics at Thomas Jefferson — a position that will be paid for entirely with federal Title I funding, Ostrowski said. He has been a secondary education administrator since 2012 in both Nebraska and Iowa, serving as principal at Gross Catholic High School and at Sidney Community Schools. He holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration and business education from Iowa State and UNO, respectively, as well as a master’s in secondary education and an administration certificate from UNO.

Chris King is joining the district as an assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson. He has most recently served as the director of student services at East Union Community Schools in Afton. He has served as a teacher at other Iowa school districts and colleges. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Northwest Missouri State, a master’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from Emporia State University and is pursuing a doctorate in administration, leadership and technology from William Howard Taft University.

Abraham Lincoln High School

Former Heartland Therapeutic School and Children’s Square Academic Center Administrator Tanya Windham will serve as an assistant principal at Abraham Lincoln. The district does not have responsibility for the administrator position at the therapeutic school this year, as the students have been shifted to a Heartland Family Service program in Omaha. She has been an administrator in the Council Bluffs Schools since 2013, serving as an assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson until moving to her current position in 2019. She holds her bachelor’s in education from UNK, her master’s at Doane and holds an educational administration certificate from Chadron State College.

These are in addition to several administrative changes announced this spring, which included the following:

Tracy Mathews, former chief of schools for preschool-5, was promoted to chief academic officer, replacing Corey Vorthmann, who retired, but still helps oversee preschool.

Mark Schuldt, former chief of schools for K-8, will focus on K-5 this year.

Melissa Comine, former interim chief of high schools, is now chief of schools for ages 6-12.

Casey Moran, former Rue Elementary principal, is now assistant special education director.

Luke Peterson, former activities director and physical education teacher at Kirn Middle School, is now activities director and assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson.

John Crall, former special education teacher and mentor leader at Ames High School, is a new assistant principal at Abraham Lincoln.

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