Julie Mann started her first term as St. Paul Lutheran School principal this week.
Mann was named to the position in January. An educator for more than 20 years, Mann has been a middle school and high school teacher, served as a high school principal, and recently as director of junior high for a Lutheran high school in Minneapolis.
"When I got a phone call asking if I was even interested in the position and if I was available to move, it was quite a blessing for our family," Mann said. "My husband was already living here. He works at Iowa Central (Community College). He's one of the football coaches there, and we've been commuting for a while."
She added, "We felt God really opened a door for our family to all be together."
In addition to her role as principal, Mann will also serve as the school's athletics director. Her duties are many, including overseeing curricular and staffing needs for the school and attending to the needs of its students, as well as building relationships with the church and school's families and the greater community.
Already, Mann has a good first impression.
"Everybody's very friendly," she said. "When I was in junior high and part of high school I lived in a smaller town, not a big city, and I like that feel. It's been a very welcoming place. I'm trying to get to know faces and put those together with names, and get to know people."
For her first week, Mann is taking time to learn more about St. Paul Lutheran and its efforts. Mann also is involved in the effort to bolster the school and church's security before the start of the 2014-15 school year on Aug. 18.
She said she does not plan to make any changes yet.
"We've got a lot of strong programs already. I'm just going through things to see what our strengths are," she said. "I'm going to be working on getting us a little more well-known in the community, and having our students be out and about doing service projects to be helpful in the community. And just have more people know about us."
Mann's favorite thing about education, she said, is to witness her students learning.
"I just love those lightbulb moments with students, when you see that 'a-ha' happening," she said. "It's very energizing to be in a school, and see the curiosity of kids and see them grow from year to year. It's nice to be in a school like this where we often have children come in at 3 years old for preschool and stay with us all the way through eighth grade, and get to know their families and be a part of their growing up."