Loveland reflects on first day as principal of Parker Elementary School

Photos by Jim Boyle

Parker Elementary School Principal Kate Loveland got to her students’ level during bus pick after after the first day of school since students were sent home for distance learning this past March.  “Having students fill the building never felt so good,” Loveland told the Star News.

The Star News joined new Parker Elementary School Principal Kate Loveland for bus pick up and afterward prepared some questions for her to answer in between a busy first couple of days of school.

Q:  It was really strange not to be able to go into the schools on opening day. I am wondering if you could provide some details about how school was different today with the precautions being taken for COVID-19 and the students that showed for school today.

A:  Since we are in the face-to-face model, students attend school every day as they normally would. However, we are taking some extra precautionary measures, like wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing when possible, and washing/sanitizing hands, even more, to keep kids safe and healthy. One of the biggest changes this year is not allowing any outside visitors in the building; this includes parents and volunteers. We are also not having any all-school assemblies (something we would typically do on the first day of school to welcome students back), which will eliminate large gatherings. Instead, we are being creative and using technology to bring what we would do during an assembly to each classroom.  

Q:  What did you notice about students being back in school? I heard they were excited to be back, but what did you hear and observe?

A:  The kids are excited to be back and we are even more excited to have them back. They were happy to see friends, meet their new teachers, and share what they’ve been up to since March.  

Q:  You mentioned previously you served 11 years as a teacher and five years as a curriculum specialist. I wonder what it’s like to begin anew as a principal with so much on “your watch.” As you have absorbed that, what has it meant to you to have this opportunity to lead a school? What are your hopes for the school year?

A: I am extremely grateful to serve Parker Elementary as their new principal. I taught at Parker early on in my teaching career, so it feels like I’m coming back home! Parker has always felt like a small community school and I hope to continue to build the family-like culture. I also hope our students feel like they belong, have something to contribute, and know that they matter!  

Q: I sensed you felt it was a good first day. What were the milestones or markers you were looking for to consider it a good first day?

A: Having students fill the building never felt so good. Our day was very smooth from beginning to end! So grateful for our amazing staff, students, and families.

Q: What was your high today?

A: The best part of my first day as principal was visiting every classroom, introducing myself, and getting to know the kids. Oh and the fact that everyone made it to school, ate lunch, and made it safely home was a bonus too!

Q: You have worked with Jana Hennen-Burr a lot, of course. What does this new post that William has filled mean for her and her department? What have you observed about William Campbell in his early days on the job?

A: Jana has served our large district as the only assistant superintendent and as we continue to grow it’s been a blessing to have Will join our ISD 728 team.  Together they will serve the entire Educational Services Team, while Jana will be able to hone in on the secondary needs that arise and Will will focus on the elementary.  Will has jumped right in and has been very visible and hands-on.

Q: What does it mean to you to have him working alongside and guiding the elementary schools?

A: It’s been great getting to know Will and I look forward to learning from him and his experiences as we work together.  

Q: What else would you like me to know?

A: I saw this quote the other day and I think it’s a good reminder for all of us as we start a new and unique year: “Let’s give this school year the opportunity to be awesome. Don’t throw a label or judgment on it before it begins. It may just surprise us in big, beautiful ways.”

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