Stacey Cole is having the time of her life as the new Storm Lake Elementary Assistant Principal.
She brings with her years of experience and a variety of experience that has made her transition into the administrative side of education much easier.
For her, accepting the job of assistant principal was like coming home.
Cole's first teaching job was at Schaller-Crestland. During the years of 1997-99 she taught special education at North and West Schools but from 1999-2005 she was a fourth grade classroom teacher at West. She stepped out to acquaint herself with the educational process by going to work for AEA from 2005-07 as the school improvement consultant. Last school year she served as a math and reading strategist in the district and visited with teachers and students in all four of the SL elementaries.
"I am thankful for all the different experiences I have had," she said. "I have worked with every teacher in the district and that is a big advantage for me."
Her days are divided between the East and North School buildings. Head elementary principal Juli Kwikkel, who served as Sole's principal when she was a classroom teacher at West - can be seen at the South and West buildings. The two had a good relationship then and now with both of them on the administrative team, that relationship is a plus.
"That is a cool experience," Cole said. "She knows my strengths and my weaknesses." Cole feels privileged to be serving with Kwikkel.
Cole grew up in Oakland and spent summers working for Boys Town before college. She tremendously enjoyed working with the kids there and had planned on earning a degree in social worker or something of the sort.
She came to Storm Lake to attend Buena Vista University. She graduated with a triple major - double majoring in special education and picking up a major in elementary education.
She never saw herself in the classroom but once she got in, there was no turning back.
"I love all kids but I especially love the kids in Storm Lake," she said. "I love kids with special needs. I love kids who don't speak English and I love that our district has all the special education programs that serve the needs of the children. It makes our jobs more challenging but it is all worth it."
She speaks highly of the teachers, whom she has had the opportunity to become acquainted with through the years.
"The teachers here are phenomenal. Everyone pulls together to do what needs to be done. They want to do the right thing. I admire them all. They are the cream of the crop."
Cole earned her Masters of Science in education from Southwest Missouri State University and is currently completing here Iowa Principal Leadership Academy work. That will be completed in December. She already has plans to work on her doctorate through Iowa State University.
She, with many others, is looking forward to the opening of the new elementary school and having the students all together. East School will continue to house the district's early childhood education programs once the new school is opened. At that time, Cole will divide her time between the new building and the early childhood programs.
"I feel so fortunate to have the people in my life that have supported me," she said. "My parents have supported me through and through. I'm thankful for (instructor) Kline Capps at BVU for urging me to pick up that elementary education major. I never thought I would be in general education. I love it."
Cole said the students is what makes her love her job. It is always great to see their smiling faces. "I love the high fives in the hall," she quickly added.
Her goal is to "learn as much as she can about the programs and the students. There is always more to learn." Keeping families involved in their children's education is a goal that all ot the administrators and teachers in the district will continually work on.
Cole and her husband, Chris, a police office with the City of Storm Lake, have two children - Carson, fourth grade, and Skylar, first grade.