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Youel to retire in June, North Tama to seek new principal

December 20, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama Elementary Principal/Technology Coordinator Josh Youel will retire after 36 years with the school district in June of 2019, with his resignation and early retirement approved by the school board on Monday, Dec. 17.

"A lot of things went into this decision, but my wife retiring and wanting to be home with her was one," Youel said. "Mike Pargeon and Mary McLean make me think I need to get on with what Josh Youel wants to do instead of Josh Youel needs to do as a principal. It's time."

Youel spent his entire career at North Tama as a teacher, coach, Athletic Director, drivers ed teacher and administrator over the years. His coaching career includes wrestling, junior high track, junior high football and one year of junior high girls track. He nearly left in his second year in Traer to move on to another job, but stayed as he married his wife, Cindy, and started a family. Youel's decision to retire this year allows him to take advantage of the district's early retirement plan.

Article Photos

Josh Youel. Photo submitted.

"I'm proud to be a part of North Tama, being a Redhawk and everything this school has provided for the kids and our community," Youel said. "Moving into being an elementary principal was way out of my comfort zone, but it was a great experience for me these past eight years."

Youel's final day on his current contract is at the end of June, so he will continue his duties for the rest of the school year and prepare for the next principal to take over shortly afterwards.

"I'll miss the little kids hugging me, the fun times I've had with the staff, the success we've had and how good it feels to achieve goals we've really worked hard for," Youel said. "There are so many wonderful students, parents, staff, board members and administrators I've had the pleasure to work with these 36 years. North Tama is a great school district, and I feel proud to being a small part of this success."

While board members and North Tama administration expressed their sadness over Youel resigning, they gave their support and best wishes to Youel going forward in retirement.

"Josh Youel has been a part of North Tama for 36 outstanding years of service and I'm thankful for these recent years of working together," North Tama Superintendent David Hill said. "I've learned a lot from Josh and he sets the bar high on work ethic, caring for his staff and the school. He's done a lot for North Tama and I wish him the best."

The board also discussed ways to move forward in filling the position, including to advertise the combined Elementary Principal/Technology Coordinator position, with the latter being an option for applicants. Hill also stated the board could consider promoting Andrew Meister to a K-12 Principal position with an assistant principal position being hired and someone else on staff being the Technology Coordinator. Finally, the board could combine the Elementary Principal and Superintendent into one job. Hill previously worked as the Elementary Principal at Dysart-Geneseo Elementary in Dysart before coming to North Tama in 2015 and had some thoughts about this idea.

"At this time, I believe it would work better for North Tama financially and learning-wise to not combine the Elementary Principal position with the Superintendent position, but we can sure discuss that," Hill said. "I feel our teachers and kids have high expectations for our principal. We have outstanding achievement in our elementary. That doesn't happen without leadership in the long term. I would like to continue that support for them in whatever way the board feels best."

Valerie Bradley, a North Tama board member, questioned how likely it would be for the district to find a candidate qualified for both the principal and tech coordinator position. Hill responded that applications might be limited, but stated someone willing to learn the technology side would be appropriate if they meet the standards to be a principal. Outsourcing or another staff member already at North Tama are also possibilities Hill and the board will consider.

"How I would do it, if the board wants to proceed with essentially hiring someone to replace Josh's position, is to advertise this position as an Elementary Principal with possible Technology Director responsibilities," Hill said. "You may end up with candidates who may not be the strongest for the Tech Director job, but they may be the very best for the principal job. We're putting our priorities first this way."

Both Youel and Meister were encouraged to discuss their opinions regarding the position with the board. Youel stated he believed that anyone willing to learn the tech side of the position could be capable with experience. While he will be unable to legally help with the position for four months after retiring due to IPERS, Youel will be "a phone call away" come late October to help with issues.

"I can help teach them and help them along as a good resource," Youel said. "I want to help move this district along, even when I'm no longer a part of it. We also have good people in our district already who can help. Suzanne Earley is just wonderful. Trish Kennedy is doing more and picking more duties. We just need to find someone who is not afraid."

Meister, who came to North Tama over the summer, echoed Youel's thoughts on the Technology Coordinator position and expressed willingness to be a K-12 Principal if the board were to move in that direction. However, Cheryl Popelka on the board did not feel combining positions such as superintendent or principals would be beneficial.

"I don't feel we should combine those positions going forward because you won't have someone who sits in there for 36 or eight years," Popelka said. "Some might come here initially and then return to their hometowns or another position elsewhere. I don't want two people spinning through the positions."

After discussion by Hill and the board, the Superintendent will move forward in advertising for the Elementary Principal position with language looking for them also to work as the Technology Coordinator. The Traer Star-Clipper will provide updates on the position as they become available.



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