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New principal happy to be back with kids: Cheryl Nash spent much of career as elementary teacher

Cheryl Nash, interim principal at Roosevelt Elementary, visits Friday with Kindergarten students James Dickman, left, and Gracie Ingram. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Cheryl Nash enjoyed her first week as interim principal of Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, and she expects that to continue to the end of the school year.

After years of working with teachers and administrators on being better leaders and improving instruction, Nash said this week that she has enjoyed being back among children at Roosevelt.

Nash, the school district’s director of curriculum and instruction, was named interim principal last week when former principal James Hill transferred to the district office to be a principal on special assignment.

Nash taught elementary grades for years before she moved into her more recent work in instruction and leadership.

Nash said she has a lot of experience dealing with students and with disciplinary issues, and she is enjoying spending more time with kids. “It’s in your blood, and you never forget it,” she said. “It gives you a little boost, spending time with kids.”

This is her first time as a principal, she said, and the Roosevelt staff and leadership team have been welcoming.

 “They have been fabulous in supporting areas that are not my expertise,” she said. “I have the credentials, but I’ve never done the boots on the ground.”

The administrative details of the job are new to her, she said, while she is well-versed in instructional issues.

Alternative Program Administrator Linda Bahe is a former Roosevelt assistant principal who has come back to help out during the transition. “She has more of that managerial piece,” Nash said, so they have been “tag teaming” a bit.

Dean of Students Jamie Thompson, who transferred to the school last month, has quickly become a fixture at the school and is “front and center” when he’s needed, she said.

In planning the transition to new leadership, she said, she and Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard discussed the need to continue positive instructional developments at Roosevelt.

“I feel the school is moving in a positive direction,” Nash said, and she wants staff members to know that the district supports their efforts.

No major changes are planned, since the staff has implemented many positive improvements already this year. Nash said she wants to honor the staff’s work and continue ongoing conversations about improving instruction.

“It’s probably a little stressful for them, and for us,” she said. “I think that’s part of community; we all need to chip in and come together.”

Since she still has duties as the curriculum director, she will not always be at the school, Nash said.

However, she has met with staff and told them that she will be available by phone and email when she’s in her other office. Some duties have shifted for staff members in the curriculum/instruction area, too, as her focus has shifted, she said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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