Sandrock Elementary, Craig Middle School start school under new leadership
As children return to the classroom next week, it’s also the first day of school for teachers and administrators. But, despite this being the beginning of a new school year in a new position for two Moffat County School District principals, both feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
Sara Linsacum, principal of Craig Middle School, and Jon Herring, principal of Sandrock Elementary, both stepped into the top office at their respective buildings a few months ago. But for each one, there’s reason to believe this should be a fairly smooth transition.
Herring brings a lifetime of experience
Herring, 63, comes to Craig after a 30-year career spent in Las Vegas in the Clark County School District. Deciding he wasn’t ready to retire from education, Herring said he was looking for somewhere just like Craig where he could help educate students for at least a little longer.
“I was completely ready to retire from a large city school district,” Herring said. “I was looking for something completely different as an administrator. I love working in the schools, working on improving the educational systems inside schools, so I thought what’s different from a big city?”
When he saw the posting for the Sandrock position, he said it jumped off the page.
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“I saw Craig and pursued it with everything I’ve got, and here I am,” Herring said.
Herring has spent most of his career, including 15 as a principal, in the elementary schools.
“I’ve been in the central offices, but I didn’t have contact with kids, and that’s where I draw my energy from,” he said. “My experience is with younger ones, and I’m not bragging, but I’m pretty good at what I do.”
Herring said a primary responsibility of the principal is to help teachers help kids.
“It’s to ensure teachers are using the latest research as far as how to teach,” he said. “I think I bring, obviously, experience, but also knowledge of the latest and greatest. Part of what attracted me here is that this district is one of the most progressive in terms of using the latest research. That’s really exciting.”
Herring added that he brings years of experience at schools that serve at-risk students and students from different language backgrounds.
“My first school was 1,300 students, and 90% of those had been in the country less than two years,” he said. “My second school, about 70% were new to the country. I bring a vast knowledge of what works with second-language students, and what’s great is that works with all students. Good teaching is good teaching no matter who the student is; the techniques and strategies that teachers use for second-language students are used with every student and improve their educational outcomes as well.”
Herring said he was very impressed with the faculty at Sandrock and the cohesiveness of the district as a whole.
“We all just want to work together for the benefit of all the kids in Moffat County,” he said.
Linsacum knows Craig Middle School
Linsacum moves over to the big chair at Craig Middle after five years as assistant principal. She’s humbled and excited for the opportunity.
“I think of different leaders I’ve looked up to throughout my career,” Linsacum said. “I thought ‘Oh my gosh, those building leaders are just amazing humans.’ It’s funny because now that I’m here, I don’t feel that way (about myself). I feel like I’m just a team member. It’s humbling and definitely no ego attached.”
Linsacum, 36, has been a professional educator for 14 years, all of it in Craig. After student teaching in the district, she started as a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Elementary, taught third grade for a while, then was in the central office before joining the Craig Middle School administration.
“I feel like I have an advantage; I know the work that needs to be done, the relationships that need to be built,” she said. “In my opinion, we are ‘sprinting shoes on’ right now. We knew the work we wanted to accomplish.”
That work includes stepping up the culture of the school to emphasize the role every member of the staff has in creating positive educational outcomes, Linsacum said.
“I’m not the sole decision maker. Together, we accomplish more,” she said. “A takeaway (from training this summer) was that every teacher causes learning, and we don’t always realize that.”
Linsacum is pleased to introduce a cardio room in the building, where every student will get 20 minutes of movement during the day. She’s also focusing on “exploratories,” opportunities for students to learn more about potential interests from members of the community as well as faculty.
“Middle school kids tend to get the, ‘Who wants to deal with a 13-year-old?’” Linsacum said. “Well I love them. This is my place. It takes a special group for middle school kids, and recruiting teachers, that’s what I want. People who love these kids. Because they need somebody.”
Linsacum is ready to welcome around 450 students, she said, and can’t wait to get the school year started.
“There’s pressure,” she said. “Pressure to make sure every kid and every family has the best experience possible at Craig Middle School. I’m owning that as a leader.”
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