Although they are all familiar faces, North Callaway R-I Schools have several new administrators leading the district into the new school year.
Longtime Williamsburg Elementary principal Nicki Kemp has moved over to the central office as the new assistant superintendent, Auxvasse Elementary teacher Tiffani Shuman is taking over the helm at Williamsburg and North Callaway graduate and former Auxvasse teacher Travis Blevins is returning as principal at Auxvasse Elementary.
Superintendent Bryan Thomsen said he is looking forward to what these three new district leaders can do.
"We just had our administrators' retreat and as far as administrative teams go, this is the best I've ever worked with - they have such a positive attitude," Thomsen said. "This is an outstanding group and I'm very excited about working with them this year and seeing the impact they're going to have on our kids."
Thomsen described Kemp, who started as a fifth-grade teacher at Williamsburg before become a literacy coach and then serving as principal for six years, as one of the reasons Williamsburg "was one of our top-performing schools."
"She's going to be over curriculum, and her skills are definitely in that area," Thomsen said. "It will be great to see her take hold of that."
Kemp said the transition from building principal to assistant superintendent is the completion of a longtime goal.
"The district allows its teachers to progress, and encourages them to move to different levels. When the position came open, it was a position I had been striving toward," Kemp said. "I will miss the daily interaction with the students, the parents and the teachers (at Williamsburg) but I am enjoying being able to reach the entire district."
Loving the change
Along with Kemp, Thomsen described Shuman as "two of the best teachers we've ever had."
He said the decision to hire her as the new principal at Williamsburg was an easy one.
"Her classroom's test scores were always high and she's already been a leader in her building and in the district," Thomsen said of Shuman. "I'm really excited about her stepping up."
Shuman, who has taught fourth grade at Auxvasse Elementary for six years, said she is excited about the challenges of her new position and getting to know the ins and outs of her new building.
"I've always wanted to be an administrator - I wanted to chance to impact more kids and help out staff," Shuman said Friday. "I love Williamsburg. I have the best staff in the world, the best students - I've just had the best first two days of school I've ever had.
"It's just a perfect feeling when I'm here. It just feels right."
Like Shuman, Thomsen said Blevins stood out as an obvious choice to take the helm at Auxvasse Elementary.
"We were specifically looking for someone that was focused on student achievement, a person with a positive attitude and who would be a good fit in the community," Thomsen said. "Travis was the best fit for us overall."
Blevins, whose family moved to Auxvasse when he was in fourth grade, said he is looking forward to raising his own children in the place he considers home.
"We have four children ourselves, and with our children getting older we were ready to come home," said Blevins, whose wife, Nicky, is the director of the Thunderbird Learning Center. "We wanted to bring our kids back to the town we were married in. This is the place I grew up in, and I wanted our children to have the same experiences I did."