MT. PLEASANT — Washington resident Katie Sands is excited to jump into her new role as Van Allen Elementary School’s principal in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District (MPCSD).
Sands, who has been in education for 18 years, has a wide-range of experience working with pre-K and elementary-level students, and has been a grade-level teacher, Title I reading instructor and an instructional coach. Before her move to MPCSD, she worked for the Columbus Community School District in Columbus Junction.
Her position at Van Allen will be her first as a principal.
“She’s got a great literacy background, which is so important at that elementary level,” MPCSD Superintendent John Henriksen said.
Henriksen added Sands’ experience with English language learners (ELL) at CCSD was another asset that stood out to the district.
“We have a lot of ELL students, too. She has had lots of experience working with diverse learners,” the superintendent said.
Sands, who comes from a family of teachers, said she’s excited to be making the jump into an administrative role.
“I feel like I’ve seen such a variety of administrators — I learned so much from all of them and I want to put it together. They all had good qualities, and I can put that together and share that with others and help lead a school,” she said.
For the new principal, MPCSD felt like a good fit because of its smaller size as a district, but one that had multiple elementary buildings from which she can learn and work with others for guidance.
“Everyone’s been really welcoming. I just had a really good feeling,” she said.
Heading into the school year, Sands said she’s looking forward to working with her building’s teachers and finding out what they feel should be the goals of the school.
“You have to be a good communicator, and you have to be able to listen to your teachers, and you have to be able to work with your teachers to do what’s best for the kids,” she said of what she feels is important as she begins her new role.
Although she’s entering the district during what will probably be an atypical year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sands said she’s not too concerned.
“I don’t know any different. It’s my first year, but not only is it my first year, it’s almost like everybody’s got a brand-new year. No one is going into anything that they’ve been in before. I feel like, in some ways, on the same level as people,” she said.
Overall, the new principal hopes to make Van Allen a “safe-haven” for students and give kids a sense of “fun and comfort.”
“I just want to have a successful year where we’re able to come to school and the students are able to learn and we’re all able to work together,” she added.