New elementary principals start

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 17, 2002

Being the new kid at school can be something of an adjustment.

You're surrounded by strange students and strange teachers, the school is strange and you don't quite know where your classrooms (or the restrooms) are.

It can be a little overwhelming -- especially if you're the new principal.

Email newsletter signup

During the next few weeks Kim Howard, the new principal at Sumner Elementary and Dan Posthumus, the new principal at Southgate Elementary, will be learning names, the layout of their new schools and preparing for a new school year. Though everything is brand new to them, they say they are excited and looking forward to the start of school.

Kim Howard, Sumner Elementary

Howard comes to the Austin Public School District after teaching second grade for four years in the Kasson-Mantorville school district. She recently received her educational specialist degree from Winona State University and is licensed as a superintendent and K-12 principal.

She says she was interested in becoming a principal because she always wanted to be in a leadership position that would allow her to help many individuals. A job as a principal in Austin was especially alluring because Howard was familiar with the area and "knew it was a positive community and a supportive district. I wanted to work with parents and colleagues who worked as a team," she says.

In fact, teamwork and leadership are her major focuses for the coming year.

Since starting Monday, Howard's "had staff come in and tell me what they like and what they would like to change at the school so we can come up with a plan from there for improving the school," she says. "And when I say staff, I mean everyone from the cook to the paraprofessionals to the teachers." She also plans to meet with parents after school starts to discuss the same topics.

"I'm really looking forward to utilizing my skills as a leader and to help people in such a supportive environment and to help them as a team," she says.

However, Howard doesn't expect this to come easily and is looking forward to the challenges of her job. "As a principal, you have so many situations to deal with and only so much time to handle them. One of the biggest challenges is going to be making sure I can communicate effectively with everyone in the time that I have," she says. "I think the challenge is such a reward, though. I look forward to the challenges more than anything."

Of course, she also is excited for the school year to begin.

"The staff members I've met are just wonderful, positive people. The students are very, very polite. I'm really looking forward to being here. It's really exciting and it's a really great community," Howard says.

Dan Posthumus, Southgate Elementary

A Minnesota native, Posthumus has come back to the state after working in Texas as a fourth-grade teacher, a fifth-grade teacher and an assistant principal.

While he wanted to comeback to Minnesota to be closer to his family, he says he was interested in Austin in particular because, "when I toured the town, it seemed like a nice community, like a nice, clean town. The people were very friendly and the district was very friendly. It seemed like it would be a nice place to raise (his two daughters, ages 4 and 7)."

It seemed, in a word, perfect.

Like Howard, Posthumus has nothing but good things to say about his first week as a principal. "It's going great. All the parents and staff are wonderful. They're very friendly, very helpful. It's been a wonderful experience so far and I expect it to keep on being so," he says.

During the next year, he says he's looking forward to "making our school the best it can be. I think that's the challenge of all school principals: making their schools the best they can be at all times."

He doesn't have any plans to make immediate changes in the school's operations and teachings and says that for awhile, he just wants "to assess how things are going, how plans and schedules work. I was not brought in to be a huge change agent. I just want to keep things going as best they can. It's a wonderful school already and if I can improve it more, that's wonderful."

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at