At least four area schools are welcoming the expertise of new administrators. Three of the administrators are new to the area with prior experience and two are experiencing their first administration positions, being moved up the ladder from teaching positions held in the same schools they are now serving.
Storm Lake High School's new assistant principal, Beau Ruleaux, has been with the district for four years as a high school science teacher. He has also shared his sports enthusiasm as a coach for high school football, seventh grade and ninth grade basketball and girls tennis. He has also been the strength coordinator.
He gave up his coaching when he accepted the new position and although he said he will miss the coaching that has been an important part of his career, he is ready to be a side-line Tornado. He is looking forward to his first principalship.
"It's quite a transition but it's gone smoother since I know the staff, faculty and kids," he said.
Ruleaux grew up in the Deadwood, SD area. His father, a world-known Native American artist, has been an educator for 40+ years.
"He inspired me more than anyone else to be an educator," Ruleaux said fondly.
The new assistant principal received his college degree at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and later continued his education at Buena Vista University and Drake, where he earned his master's degree.
His first teaching job was at Rock County High School in Nebraska. He remained there three years and then went on to River Valley High School in Correctionville where he stayed for five years.
He has enjoyed SLHS immensely - especially the kids.
Knowing many of the kids already has been an advantage to himself and to the students. One of his first goals is to get to know all of the kids. "That's a good thing," he said, "so they feel they can come and talk to me if there are problems. It's good to make those personal connections."
Ruleaux has several other goals he would like to complete in his new position.
"I want to continue building good work relations with our diverse students" and continue making Storm Lake High School a good, safe place for all students to enjoy coming to.
Ruleaux is single but is blessed with his parents and five siblings.
Jeff Dicks, new high school principal at Newell-Fonda, had a wonderful role model - his predecessor and his own former high school principal, Phil Casey.
Dicks, a 1984 graduate of Newell Providence High School, has been an educator in the same district that he received his own elementary and secondary education for the past seven years where he has taught business classes.
When Mr. Casey announced he was retiring at the end of the 2004-05 school year, Dicks knew he was ready to start walking in the footsteps of his principal.
"I love what I do," he said.
He. too, said the transition to administration from teaching in the same school, has been an easy one.
"I know the kids and they know me," he said. (And he is most certainly acquainted with the school!)
Dicks taught for two years at Schaller-Crestland and one year at Underwood. He took a leave from education for a short stint as a businessman. The leadership skills he gained during that opportunity have been essential in feeling comfortable in the new position. He is extremely glad he is again back in the education field.
"There were a lot of jobs available but the culture here is very unique. We have small classes and have a family-oriented setting here," he said, adding that the N-F students have many of the same opportunities as students in the larger schools. "Our kids are successful and that spills out into all areas."
He praises the teachers who are "such hard workers and so dedicated. And we have great support of the community."
His wife Paula, is a first grade teacher at N-F. The couple has three children, Brady, third grade; Taylor, first grade and Mason, 8 months.
David Baker is excited about the opportunity to be the principal at the Albert City-Truesdale Elementary School.
"I've never been one to take the easy road," he said of his dedication to the district. "This isn't a major challenge but it's an exciting opportunity to be a part of a district that doesn't want to lose its existence. They need someone to guide them in the right direction and I'm honored to have been the one chosen to do that."
Baker grew up in Hedrick. His interest in aiming for a career in education came while in high school. He graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College of Ankeny in 1986. He later went on to earn his master's degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
He taught fifth and sixth grade for some time and then went on to teach seventh grade geography and eighth grade math in Sioux City schools. Prior to coming to AC-T, he was the principal at Jesup.
He enjoyed being a classroom teacher but as an administrator, he has the opportunity, he said, to spend time with even more kids. "I enjoy that."
Baker has lunchroom duty, which he feels, "breaks down the barrier. They hopefully then won't have any fear of the principal. I'm someone they know."
He is diligently working on learning the names of the 100 preschool through sixth grade students attending the school.
He is impressed with the support of the communities, the parents and the teachers.
A single man, Baker resides in Albert City.
"It's important to be a part of the community. It shows the people of the community that I also have a stake in what's happening at the school. I like it when I see the kids and they all wave and say 'hello' and introduce me to their grandparents and their parents if I haven't met them."
Though this will be a year of exploration, the new principal will be working hard to make the public more aware of the school and its existence.
AC-T is also fortunate to have Dennis Bahr, a retired administrator, serving as the interim superintendent at the school. He is at the school once a week.
Serving as the new superintendent at Sioux Central is Steve Callison. He comes to the district with 22 years of experience as a principal and five years as a teacher. This is his first year as a superintendent and he is thrilled by the opportunity to be at the motivated school district.
Callison has been the principal in four schools similar in size of SC, most recently at Marquette Academy in Davenport.
"This is a great school to be in," he said. "The staff is proficient and (it is evident) how much they care about the kids. I am really fortunate to here as a first-year superintendent."
He has worked some great superintendents over the years, he said, "and they have been great mentors to me.
"One thing I see as my job here is to make sure our preschool kids will have the same opportunities that are seniors have when they get that age. We have to work to work to keep the enrollment up. People are excited and motivated to help the kids."
Callison grew up in Nevada and earned his teaching degree from Iowa State University. He later earned his master's degree at the University of Northern Iowa and his specialist's degree at ISU.
Callison and his wife Rose reside in Sioux Rapids. They have four grown children and five grandchildren.