Four Stillwater principals to switch positions

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 28, 2011 - 10:16 PM

District leaders say moves are an effort to keep principals in district.

Many changes are coming to Stillwater schools next year.

They'll be getting a new superintendent. Hundreds of students will be changing schools due to redrawing of school boundaries.

And now, four of the district's 14 principals also will be moving into new schools, officials recently announced.

Interim Superintendent Tom Nelson said the principals at Stonebridge, Rutherford and Lake elementary schools and Oak-Land Junior High School were receiving job offers from other schools. In an effort to keep them in the district, he offered them the opportunity to switch schools.

"How do you create an opportunity for people within the organization so you don't lose your talent?" Nelson asked.

The moves involve Andy Fields of Lake Elmo Elementary, Derek Berg of Oak-Land Junior High, Heather Nelson of Stonebridge Elementary and Stephen Gorde of Rutherford Elementary. Fields will move to Oak-Land Junior High School. Berg will take on Stonebridge Elementary. Nelson will lead Rutherford Elementary. And Gorde will lead Lake Elmo Elementary.

Nelson said the moves offer a professional development opportunity for the principals.

"It was a transparent process. Most people won't even notice it. It's more of an issue for staff who work day-to-day with the principals. There hasn't been change for quite some time" here.

Incoming Superintendent Corey Lunn said the changes will be a good thing for the district.

"In our field, change is constant," he said. "The way I'm looking at it, I'm excited. There will be many of us trying new things and new roles. As one of those people, that we can all work together, that's exciting. These are people who have worked in district getting new roles. If they were from outside the district and they were new, I'd have a different answer."

The transferring principals said the move will allow for both professional growth and an opportunity to share their ideas through the district.

"This is a real opportunity for growth for me as an educator and as a leader," said Fields. Becoming a junior high principal "will help further my understanding of middle-level standards and allow me to continue to work with the students as they transition from elementary into junior high."

"I'm really excited," Nelson said about her move from Stonebridge to Rutherford. "This move will be a challenge for me as a leader in getting to know a new community and staff."

And Nelson reassured parents that the moves were not reactionary.

"None of the schools are broken," Nelson said. "The moves are not happening because something's wrong. They're happening for all of the right reasons. We're moving within the same outstanding school district."

District spokeswoman Carissa Nelson said only Fields and Berg will see pay changes as they are moving between junior high schools and elementary schools.

"Other than that, it's a wash and will not affect the district's bottom line," Nelson said.

Daarel Burnette II• 651-735-1695 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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