Two east metro school districts have turned to homegrown talent to fill elementary school principal positions.

Jodi Husting, assistant principal at Crestview Elementary and Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion schools in the South Washington County School District, has been promoted to the top job at the dual-campus site in Cottage Grove.

She began her teaching career in South Washington County in 1992, and served for two years as the district’s world language curriculum coordinator. In the latter role, she managed a grant that introduced Mandarin to the district’s world language program.

Husting was assistant principal at Crestview and Nuevas Fronteras in 2014-15. She replaces Tina Haselius, who left the district to become principal of Echo Park Elementary in Burnsville.

Julie Nielsen, an assistant superintendent for the South Washington County district, said in a district news release that Husting already made a difference as an assistant principal at Crestview/Nuevas Fronteras by “providing a positive atmosphere that allows for risk taking and problem solving.”

In the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District, Gena Abrahamson, a 1989 graduate of North High in North St. Paul, took over as principal of Cowern Elementary in North St. Paul on July 1.

She grew up in Maplewood, and most recently served as interim principal of Carver Elementary in Maplewood. Before then, Abrahamson worked for 16 years as assistant principal at North High, putting her on a path to winning a distinguished alumni award during the school’s 2015 commencement ceremony.

“I am excited to be given the opportunity to be part of the Cowern community,” Abrahamson said in a district news release.

Assistant Superintendent Troy Miller said: “We think very highly of Gena. Her dedication to students and strong leadership skills were apparent during her time at North High and even more so while serving as interim principal at Carver Elementary. We couldn’t have asked for a better candidate to lead Cowern Elementary.”


Elementary students learn native culture

Twelve students from Rutherford Elementary in Stillwater traveled to a St. Paul school for two weeks in June to learn about Native American culture, the district said recently.

The program, based at the American Indian Magnet School on the East Side, gave students a chance to hear the Ojibwe and Dakota languages, and offered lessons on native cultural beliefs and practices. The students also went on field trips to Minnehaha Falls and Fort Snelling State Park.

“If I had a choice, I would stay here all summer,” one student, Kylan Warrington, was quoted by the district as saying.

Also participating in the program, which ran from June 15 to June 26, were students from the St. Paul and South Washington County districts.

The Native American Summer Program is funded by a grant from the federal Bureau of Indian Education.

Anthony Lonetree