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Leaving St. Edmond a better place

Mitchell to retire at end of 2019-20 school year

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Linda MItchell, principal of St. Edmond Catholic School, watches as fourth-grader Jennifer Touney, 10, looks up a password for her computer while working on a project in class. Mitchell will be retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

At the end of the school year, St. Edmond Catholic School will say goodbye to longtime Principal Linda Mitchell.

Mitchell, who started as a sixth-grade teacher at Holy Rosary Catholic School 45 years ago, is retiring at the end of this school year.

Throughout her time as a classroom teacher, she taught third, fifth and sixth grades. She was also the head teacher at Holy Rosary for a while before the Fort Dodge Catholic schools consolidated into one building at St. Edmond.

Mitchell had been in the classroom for about 27 years before she moved to the administrative side of education.

“They couldn’t find an elementary principal, so they asked me to do it just for a short period of time,” Mitchell said. “Then it ended up permanent and I haven’t looked back since.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
St. Edmond Catholic School Principal Linda MItchell watches as a group of grade school students make their was to lunch.

Eventually, Mitchell became the head principal for St. Edmond, a kindergarten through 12th-grade school. In her 18 years as an administrator, Mitchell knew she wanted to stay at St. Edmond.

“It ended up being a mission for me, something that I wanted to do,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell enjoyed St. Edmond’s faith foundation and liked to continue to try making the school a better place.

Throughout the years, Mitchell has touched countless students and families in the Fort Dodge community. She’s had students in her classrooms who were children of past students she’s taught. Even now, some of the younger students at St. Edmond are the grandchildren of students she taught way back in the 1970s at Holy Rosary.

“When you’re out and about and you see people you know, it kind of gives you a lift,” Mitchell said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
St. Edmond Catholic School Principal Linda Mitchell, right, visits with administrative assistants Michelle Nader, at left, and Carol Edge, center.

Having Mitchell in her position of principal for so long helped create a stability that students and families could expect, said St. Edmond Catholic School President Mary Gibb..

“Dedication and consistency when you have the same principal for that long, parents get used to what are her expectations, how she disciplines students, what she’ll allow, what she won’t allow,” Gibb said.

Mitchell always puts the school first, Gibb added.

It will be hard to find a replacement, Gibb said, but the school is searching diligently.

“No. 1, we’re looking for an instructional leader, someone that can help with the curriculum and data,” she said. “Very much a faith-filled individual, a practicing Catholic. Someone who really believes in the mission of the school and the church.”

Mitchell hopes to make her successor’s transition as smooth as possible.

“I just want to make sure that everything is done properly and it’s easy for the new person to take over,” she said.

Mitchell’s presence will be missed in the halls of St. Edmond next year.

“I’m very thankful that I’ve gotten to work with her for seven years,” Gibb said. “She’s taught me a lot about the system, me being new here.”

When it comes to her retirement plans, Mitchell doesn’t have any yet. She said she tries not to make plans too far ahead, so they won’t fall through.

“So I’m just focusing on my day-to-day type stuff,” she said.

As her retirement date looms on the horizon, it’s a bittersweet feeling, Mitchell said.

“It’s mixed emotions,” she said. “I just hope they remember that I tried to do my best, and I always wanted them to do their best.”

In addition to being a practicing Catholic, candidates must hold an Iowa administrator’s license, or be eligible for the administrator license. Previous administrative experience is preferred.

The position will remain open until filled, however the first deadline for applications is Feb. 14. If a candidate is not chosen, the application process will open again.

Candidates can apply on www.teachiowa.gov, or can submit a resume, college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, Iowa certification documents or equivalency and a cover letter to the school administrative office, 2220 Fourth Ave. N., Fort Dodge, Iowa.