The end of the school year marked the end of Kris Strauman’s tenure as principal of Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville.
Strauman first started in the district on July 17, 1997 after working in the Bowler School District since 1982. She started at Bowler as a business education teacher for seventh grade through 12th grade. At risk coordinator responsibilities were added to her workload two years later.
Also during that time she worked toward and received a certification to teach elementary school students and keyboarding. This allowed her to pursue the elementary school principal position in Bowler when it opened. She didn’t get the job initially.
“It was actually offered to a sixth grade teacher there and the night it was going to the board, he turned it down because he didn’t want to leave the classroom,” Strauman said.
Two years later the high school principal in Bowler retired so Strauman took over principal duties for K-12. Two years later her duties were switched to principal for grades 7-12.
“In 1997 I realized I really liked elementary kids so I applied here (Clintonville) and I got the job,” Strauman recalled.
When hired by the Clintonville School District in 1997 it was to be principal of three elementary schools — Bear Creek Elementary, Dellwood Elementary, and Longfellow Elementary.
“At one time we had 701 kids in all three schools,” she said.
The district’s enrollment numbers caused her principal responsibilities to change over the years.
“When enrollment started dwindling, first it happened at Bear Creek, they decided they’d have to close down that school,” Strauman said. “Then the other principal retired from here. Then I took over Dellwood and Longfellow.”
Strauman said it was a tough decision to retire as principal of Longfellow Elementary School.
“This has been my life for many, many years,” she said. “A lot of times you put your family second and the school came first.”
The students and staff will be missed the most, she said.
“You’re not going to find a more caring, understanding staff than what this school has. They go the extra mile for the kids. The kids here are really good kids,” Strauman said.
The students and staff helped send Strauman into retirement in style with a flash mob event, Tuesday, June 10. A story about this was featured on the front page of the June 19 issue of the Tribune-Gazette.
“You always hope that the decisions that you make are in the best interest of the kids,” she said. “You want the people who are working with the kids to make sure that they get everything they need to do the best that they can for the kids. After seeing what they did for me, I must have did something right.”
She added that after the event, parents and students came to visit her wanting to have their picture taken with her.
Visiting family is the first thing on her retirement to do list.
She planned to spend a couple months with her mother who lives in Superior. She also has a trip planned to Missouri to visit her daughter.
Even though she is looking forward to retirement, she will miss the staff and students.
“They have been truly amazing,” Strauman said. “I didn’t look at this as a job, I looked at this as going to a family. We’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. We’ve accomplished great things together.”