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Duluth school district gets four new principals

Four retirements mean four new principals in Duluth school district schools next year.

East High School as well as Myers-Wilkins, Homecroft and Stowe elementary schools will have new leaders following the retirements of Laurie Knapp, Stephanie Heilig, Cher Obst and Larry Udesen, respectively.

Each of the elementary schools garnered more than 40 applicants — with some applying to each — and East drew more than 20.

"We were fortunate to have many candidates that were interested in these positions," said Superintendent Bill Gronseth. "The fact that so many people applied ... says a lot about the school district and the city."

Hermantown resident Danette Seboe has the top position at East High School. She comes from Eveleth-Gilbert Senior High School, and this year was named principal of the year by the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals.

She has been a K-8 principal and counselor for the Eveleth-Gilbert school district and is an adjunct professor for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. She has an education specialist degree in school administration from Saint Mary's and a master's degree in school counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Elisa Maldonado, of Monticello, Minn., is principal of Myers-Wilkins Elementary. She most recently worked as an elementary assistant principal for the St. Cloud, Minn., school district, and has served in the same position for the Osseo and Round Lake school districts in Minnesota. She has taught for UNO Charter Schools in Chicago. She has a certificate of advanced study in curriculum and instruction and a master's of education degree in administration and leadership from National Louis University in Chicago.

Amy Worden, of Isanti, Minn., will lead Homecroft Elementary. She has been assistant principal of Sunrise Elementary in North Branch, Minn., and student performance improvement and elementary staff development coordinator for St. Francis, Minn., schools. Worden earned her K-12 administration licensure from Hamline University in St. Paul and a master's degree in education from Saint Mary's University.

Cynthia Maldonado of St. Louis Park, Minn., is principal of Stowe Elementary. She has been executive director of VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg, Pa., a dual language school, and has taught in the Eastern Carver County school district, Chaska, Minn., and St. Louis Park. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Bethel University in St. Paul, and earned her principal licensure and master's degree in education with an emphasis in immersion education from Hamline University.

Teachers, parents and district staff and administration were involved in the interview process. Gronseth said candidates were chosen who had knowledge and experience with the district's main improvement strategies.

Some of those include a multitiered system for supporting students based on levels of need, and the use of positive-behavior interventions rather than a zero-tolerance approach to dealing with student behavior. Experience with professional learning communities and student data to help improve instruction and student performance was also something the district sought.

"It was also important that candidates put students first in their decision-making processes," Gronseth said.

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