Dist. 16 hunts for new Spanish Immersion principal

District 16 has begun the search for a new principal at Woodcrest Elementary Spanish Immersion School in Fridley.

The position will be vacant after a series of leadership changes in the district occur at the end of this school year.

Northpoint Principal Mike Callahan stands in front of the school. Callahan will leave his position to become director of student services and special education in District 16. Judi Kahoun, current principal at Woodcrest Elementary, will step in as principal at Northpoint next year. The search is underway for a new principal at Woodcrest, which houses the Spanish Immersion program. Submitted photo

Northpoint Principal Mike Callahan stands in front of the school. Callahan will leave his position to become director of student services and special education in District 16. Judi Kahoun, current principal at Woodcrest Elementary, will step in as principal at Northpoint next year. The search is underway for a new principal at Woodcrest, which houses the Spanish Immersion program. Submitted photo

Director of Special Education Carolyn Cherry is resigning from her role after one year in the position.

Mike Callahan, current principal at Northpoint Elementary School in Blaine, will take on her responsibilities as director of student services and special education.

Judi Kahoun, current principal at Woodcrest, will step in as principal at Northpoint this summer, leaving the Woodcrest principal job unfilled.

The district would like to see a candidate who speaks fluent Spanish assume the roll, Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said at a school board work session March 25. Though it’s the district’s intention to hire someone who speaks Spanish, “ultimately, the most important thing is finding a quality educational leader – whether they speak Spanish or not,” Ronneberg said in an interview.

District leaders are performing first-round interviews with candidates as they apply. External and internal candidates are being considered.

Later, a carefully selected pool of candidates will be interviewed at the school-level to determine whether they might be a good fit at Woodcrest, Ronneberg said.

He hopes to present a final candidate to the school board in May.

Kahoun’s experiences as Woodcrest’s principal – a role she’s held since 2007 – have prepared her to transition to Northpoint “pretty seamlessly,” according to Ronneberg.

“I’m just very excited to continue my work in the district,” Kahoun said.

She welcomes this new opportunity, though she has enjoyed overseeing the Spanish Immersion program’s transition to Woodcrest this year, she said. Previously, the program was housed in the Westwood complex in Blaine.

The move is “bittersweet” for Callahan, who helped get Northpoint up and running in 2008. He has been principal there since the doors opened.

“I love Northpoint, and I think what I’ll miss most is the kids,” Callahan said.

He won’t have day-to-day interaction with students as an administrator in the district office, but he’ll still be working to support them, especially the “kids that are struggling academically, socially and emotionally,” he said.

His innovative and collaborative approaches to learning are two of many characteristics that made him the right fit for this position, Ronneberg said.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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