A well-known Minneapolis elementary school principal will be the new principal at Minneapolis North High School, Minneapolis Public Schools officials announced Friday.
Mauri Melander Friestleben, who has been at the helm of Lucy Laney Elementary School in north Minneapolis, was the district’s choice to succeed Shawn Harris-Berry. She was promoted recently to a districtwide position: associate superintendent.
Lucy Laney is one of three feeder schools to North High. Friestleben said she took the offer because she liked the idea of being the high school principal for Lucy Laney graduates and her own daughter, who will join North High in a couple of years.
“It’s happy-sad,” Friestleben said. “There’s nothing about Lucy Laney that I would want to leave.”
Friestleben has been principal at Lucy Laney for seven years but has worked at the school for a decade, also serving as assistant principal. During her time at Lucy Laney, Friestleben was focused on retaining teachers, engaging families and boosting student achievement in a school where about 80% of the students test a grade level or more below their current grade and a large number of students are homeless.
She will start her new role Aug. 5.
Officials announced Friday that Lucy Laney’s assistant Principal Lisa Pawelak will step in as the interim principal in the 2019-20 school year until the district finds a permanent leader.
Pawelak has played a critical role in managing the school’s day-to-day operations, ranging from coaching teachers to supporting students, district leaders said. But they also acknowledged news of Friestleben’s departure will be difficult for the tight-knit school community.
In a letter sent to members of the Lucy Laney school community, leaders of the state’s third-largest school district said they will work with the school’s site council, staff, families and community members to find a leader who best matches their needs.
North and Lucy Laney will be among a handful of schools in the district welcoming new principals in the upcoming school year.
Recently, Wellstone International High School Principal Aimee Fearing announced on Twitter that she was leaving her post to become the district’s executive director of K-12 academic programming. Christian Ledesma, who has been an assistant principal at Roosevelt High School for the past three years, will serve as the interim principal at Wellstone, a school that caters mostly to students learning English.