‘Fresh Eyes’

Humboldt welcomes new high school principals

HUMBOLDT — Humboldt High School will welcome new leadership this fall.

Following the early retirement of Principal Lori Westhoff, Dr. Paul Numedahl will take the reins at Humboldt High School.

Numedahl, who is currently the assistant principal at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colorado, received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Numedahl will be joined by Assistant Principal Abby Horbach, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNI. Horbach is currently the K-5 school counselor at College View Elementary School in Council Bluffs. Previously, she had been an eighth grade math teacher in the Waterloo Community School District.

Numedahl and Horbach are just two of several new district leaders for Humboldt. Jim Murray, the new superintendent for Humboldt, has also hired two new elementary school principals, one of whom was also hired to be the director of curriculum, and a new middle school assistant principal.

“Typically, in many districts, you might get one new administrator or two,” Murray said. “But with as many as we have, we’re going to get a lot of stakeholder feedback from all levels — elementary, middle and high school — so we should get a very good view of what is going well and what might need to improve.”

Murray said he hopes the new perspectives brought by the new administrators will be an asset for the Humboldt Community School District.

“I think we’re all going to have fresh eyes when we come in, a fresh perspective of education and I look forward to that,” he said.

Murray feels that Horbach brings a great deal of experience with developing relationships with families and, with her counseling background, supporting at-risk students and those who are struggling with mental health.

Numedahl, Murray said, brings a strong background in curriculum assessment, teacher development and instructional leadership.

“I think both prioritize establishing relationships,” he said.

Though Numedahl has been teaching in Colorado for the past several years, he is a native of Decorah, and he and his wife were looking at moving back to be closer to family and continue their careers in Iowa. Numedahl’s wife is an elementary school teacher and will teach in the Twin Rivers Community School District.

“We really wanted a community-minded atmosphere that really supported education and education really supported community values and that’s what we found in Humboldt,” Numedahl said.

The new principal is ready to get started at Humboldt High School this fall.

“The big thing I’m really looking forward to is getting to know the community, school staff, students, parents,” he said. “Really understanding those traditions and legacy that are part of Humboldt school district.”

Numedahl doesn’t have any grand plans of making changes — he plans to learn and listen to the needs of the district and its stakeholders and work together to best support the school.

“I’m a big relationship guy,” he said. “I think we can all do better if we’re actually working on something in a cooperative, collaborative way.”

Horbach was also looking to continue her career in north central Iowa when she applied for the assistant principal position at HHS. She already had some friends and family that live in the area and was also looking for a job in a good school district for when she decides to start her family, she said.

“When I started researching the district, I was like ‘Wow, this is definitely somewhere I want to be,'” she said. “This is somewhere I want to be long-term.”

Horbach said she’s most looking forward to getting to know the students this fall.

“I’m really excited to be a part of an awesome community,” she said. “Working with a new group of administrators working toward one goal is going to be super exciting because I think we will all work well together. We all kind of have the same mindset, which is great.”

Numedahl’s starting salary with the district will be $117,700 annually. Horbach’s starting salary will be $92,700 annually.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)