1st day of school is pretty darn cool

Second grader Raelynn Rasmussen, 7, plays on the playground before the start of school this morning at Halverson Elementary School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Second grader Raelynn Rasmussen, 7, plays on the playground before the start of school this morning at Halverson Elementary School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Halverson, Lakeview welcome principals

The start of the school year brings new principals to two buildings, though they are familiar faces to Albert Lea Area Schools.

Johanna Thomas is the new principal of Halverson Elementary School, but she worked as an assistant principal at the high school for seven years.

Thomas wants to continue to focus on the best instruction practices in the classroom in the upcoming year.

The elementary schools in Albert Lea are on their second year of a new reading program, she said, and she said the staff will continue to learn strategies to best implement the program.

In reading, Thomas hopes to make sure all students are reading at the same level.

She feels Halverson’s community is supportive and allows families to be involved with their child’s schooling. Thomas said that is a big goal for her after meeting parents at conferences before school started.

Many students are excited for school to start. Fourth-grader Zoe Kokot, fourth-grader Lindsey Ramirez, third-grader Sydney Kokot and first-grader Betsy Kokot said they were all happy that school was starting again.

Sydney Kokot mentioned she wanted to work harder on her reading this year. Betsy Kokot said she was excited to see all of her friends and meet her teacher for the year.

Sheta Htoo, a first-grader, also said she was excited to meet her teacher and start school.

Second-grader Jayden Larson and fourth-grader Kaw Htoo said they were eager to participate in gym class.

Ryley Vanriper, a fourth-grader, wasn’t sure what he was happy for on the first day of school.

“I really don’t know,” he said, just before Vanriper, Larson and Kaw Htoo’s friends ran up to them on the playground.

 

Another familiar face

Lakeview Elementary School also has a new principal this year in Nick Sofio, the former principal of Halverson Elementary School.

Sofio was the principal of Halverson for two years before coming to Lakeview. Before that he worked in Shakopee.

Sofio said Lakeview has been a successful school and he’s ready to help it move forward. He noted that the students at the school achieve academic goals and he wants to add to that.

The Lakeview math and reading achievement levels are above the state average, Sofio said.

Lakeview has a positive image, Sofio said, and noted that all of the schools in Albert Lea do a great job.

So far, he’s been working on understanding the Lakeview culture and wants to work hard to push kids to meet their academic needs so Lakeview can continue to be the best it can be.

Sofio also mentioned the reading program, and he said he wants to work toward full implementation of that program.

For math, Sofio wants to establish a program that meet the needs of the students rather than a “one-size-fits-all” model.

Above all, Sofio said he is excited to work with the students this year.