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St. Paul welcomes new principal

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
St. Paul Lutheran School Principal Barb Kozisek, center, checks in with Brielle Hall, left, Lucy Lynn, Lilly Mae Eastwood and Pranav Bhuma doing paper crafts in the 3-year-old preschool. Daycare for 2, 3, and 4-year-olds will likely expand at St. Paul in the coming year, as the school and church try to meet a local need.

With a new principal at the helm, St. Paul Lutheran School is looking to provide more child care for the area, and more science/technology/math training for its own students in the coming year.

Barb Kozisek has been at her new position since July, working three days a week for the school.

Kozisek is excited about offering day care because of the need in the area.

“We did add wrap-around care for our 4-year-old preschool,” she said. “We do have that option for our parents, so they don’t have to worry about the transportation issue.”

Parents can now let their 4-year-olds stay all day at the school Monday, Wednesday and Friday, picking them up at 5:30 p.m. so they don’t have to get them to another day care.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Lily Moore puts together a Lego creation at 3-year-old preschool recently. Once she’s older, she won’t just be playing with Legos at St. Paul Lutheran School—she’ll have the option of joining the Lego league, and building autonomous robots out of Legos that can be programmed by students and enter competitions.

“Our goal next year is to expand that out for 2-year-olds through 4- and 5-year-olds,” Kozisek said. “That preschool age. And that will be five days a week.”

The day care would be open to any parent in the community who wishes to enroll their child, she said.

It could potentially locate in a spacious area in the church basement. The goal would be to open the day care this fall.

Kozisek and her husband Scott Kozisek live in Garner, where he’s a pastor at a Lutheran church.

Before she came to St. Paul, Kozisek was the school counselor at Belmond-Klemme for grades seven through 12.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Principal Barb Kozisek looks over the outdated computers in this computer lab that’s no longer used. School officials hope to transform this area into a STEM makerspace in the coming year.

She taught family and consumer science.

She said what attracted her to education in the first place was when she discovered a talent for leading others.

“I worked in retail management,” she said. “I enjoyed training employees. So I went back to school for education.”

This is her first time at a parochial school.

“I think the challenge is funding, because it’s not like you have the state giving you money, so you have to find your own way of financing,” Kozisek said. “But the plus side is being able to share the faith and Jesus to the students, and to provide them with opportunities to grow in every aspect of their life, and not being limited to what you can say or do in that area.”

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Tiffany Garber, sixth grade, does a drawing exercise during the day recently. Along with teaching with Chromebooks (and soon iPads), the school also makes use of paper textbooks and teaches cursive handwriting, and instructs students in the traditional math.

Aside from building more child care, Kozisek is excited about increasing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math training at the school — hopefully turning a now-disused old computer room into a STEM makerspace.

“On our wish list, depending on funding and grants, is to put in a STEM makerspace room,” she said. “The goal is to give our kids more hands-on, more STEM opportunities, some coding. I’m hoping to add 25-plus iPads.”

The school continues to make use of Chromebooks as well. The goal is to someday be 1:1 with a computer for every student.

As they incorporate new concepts, the teaching remains traditional.

“We teach handwriting, and cursive,” Kozisek said. “We teach traditional math. I’m not a big fan of the new math.”

Kozisek also hopes to expand the Lego League next year.

The league, using programmable robots made from the blocks, can then lead into a more advanced high school robotics class. The Lego League is already quite popular at the school, with 24 students in first through fourth grades taking part.

They were recently visited by older students.

“The robotics team from the high school came,” said second-grader Noah Thackery. “They showed us how the robot worked. They had a bigger one and a littler one. The littler one had something that could pick up stuff.

“We got to drive the little one.”

Thackery’s classmates were eager to talk about the work they’ve been doing with their robot, dubbed Milo.

“We’re finishing Milo,” Thackery said. “We’re going to put something on to bring Legos to us with Milo.”

Programming the robots requires students to think about how many seconds they want a motor to run, for example, to move the ‘bot into the right place. They’ve had to learn a little bit of coding, said Deven Tyre.

“Yeah, just not hard codes,” he said. “You can time it for how many minutes it can go, or if you do zero it will keep going forever.”

With the school and the daycare, Kozisek said the challenge is being known.

“Probably our other big challenge is just getting the word out that we’re here,” she said.

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