Progress: Elementary schools have 3 new principals

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Three of Albert Lea’s four elementary schools are under fairly new leadership. After Corrine Tims retired, Karen Zwolenski took over Hawthorne Elementary School last fall. After Jean Jordan was moved to Southwest Middle School last fall, Eric Hudspith took the lead at Lakeview Elementary School. And Matt Esterby has been the principal at Halverson Elementary School since the fall of 2010 after Del Stein retired. Here they share their goals for their respective elementary schools.


Eric Hudspith, Lakeview Elementary School

Eric Hudspith poses for a photo in the district’s office building in 2010. He became principal of Lakeview Elementary School last fall. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

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My primary goal as principal of Lakeview Elementary School is to create an environment in which all students feel valued and understand that they can be successful.

I look forward to working with teachers to help them develop a plan for each child and deliver the instruction for that plan to be successful. In education, as in many fields, working collaboratively with teachers, students and families is the best way to find the most effective plan for success, and part of my goal is to continue to foster this collaboration in the school and community.

Our students will benefit from this collaboration, and it will help them feel like an important and successful part of Lakeview’s community.


Karen Zwolenski, Hawthorne Elementary

Karen Zwolenski poses for a photo at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year outside Hawthorne Elementary School. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

With the restructuring of elementary schools, Hawthorne Elementary School has a brand new look. You will see some familiar faces, but more than 50 percent of the licensed staff is new to our building.

As principal, it is my goal to build upon the traditions that Hawthorne has established, while moving forward to re-create a new school community. Our staff has a terrific blend of strengths that complement each other. We are creating strong educational teams to achieve the greatest student learning.

Here at Hawthorne, when we considered what the heart of our school was, we came up with the phrase, “It’s All About Learning!” This isn’t just a saying on our school entrance banner. It means we are committed to actions that support the learning of all students. If you were to stop and talk to any staff member at our school, you would quickly find out that our staff believes in success for all of our students and will do what it takes to help them achieve. Throughout the year, our staff meets weekly in collaborative teams to focus on students. Our discussions revolve around four critical questions: What is it we want our students to learn? How will we know when each student has learned it? How will we respond when some students do not learn it? And, how can we extend and enrich learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency? My goals are to support and guide the answers to those questions and do whatever it takes to help students learn and grow to their greatest potential. That is the heart of Hawthorne.


Matt Esterby, Halverson Elementary

Matt Esterby poses for a photo at Halverson Elementary School. He took over for Del Stein, who retired after the 2009-10 school year. -- Andrew Dyrdal/Albert Lea Tribune

My goals for Halverson Elementary School stem from the district’s aims of having safe, healthy and welcoming schools, increasing student opportunity and achievement and operating in the most effective and efficient manner.

We are creating a safe school culture where caring and thoughtfulness is of utmost importance. Students get recognized monthly for showing outstanding citizenship characteristics at school. We know feeling safe has a positive impact on the learning environment and remains a top priority for us.

Our strong parental and family support is highly valued at Halverson. Sustaining this support continues to be at the top of our list. The school’s parent/teacher organization offers a tremendous support through several school-wide events that help families feel welcomed.

The staff has been charged with creating learning environments that align with individual needs of every student. This environment takes the collective effort of everyone on staff. As our instruction continues to target student needs, our achievement levels increase.

As a whole, our school community continues to take great strides at making school experiences for our students extraordinary. Our goals support the social and academic development of students, supporting family involvement in education and creating a collaborative school culture where everyone’s contribution is valued. The combination of all these goals, help us to operate effectively.


Quick facts

Karen Zwolenski

Age: 49

Family: husband, Mark, daughters Megan, 25, and Lauren, 23

Interesting fact: Zwolenski has run four marathons and hopes to do a fifth in the future.


Eric Hudspith

Age: 33

Family: wife, Emily; daughter, Ella, 3; son, Cole, 1

Interesting fact: Because of his dad’s job, as a child Hudspith attended 13 different schools from kindergarten through his senior year.


Matt Esterby

Age: 35

Family: wife, Erika; sons Kyan and Kasen

Interesting fact: He played football and basketball and ran track at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.