A soggy morning didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Titan Hill Intermediate School staff and students as they started a new school year Monday.
For Principal Dana Barker and Associate Principal Alison Evangelisti, it was also their first day of school in Lewis Central Community School District. Barker replaced Kent Stopak, who retired in June, and Evangelisti replaced Condra Allred, who accepted a position in another school district.
Barker stood in front of the main entrance Monday morning, welcoming people and giving students high-fives while Evangelisti welcomed students to the cafeteria for breakfast. Both were excited about starting a new year in a new place.
“I have been in a very big district, so moving here was a breath of fresh air,” Barker said, who was previously principal at Belvedere Elementary in Omaha. “Everybody’s friendly, and it’s just a small-town feel.”
Barker also served as principal at Sherman Elementary in Omaha and taught at Miller Park and Minne Lusa Elementary Schools in Omaha for 12 years. She also served as a literacy facilitator at Benson West Elementary for a year and a school support liaison at Mount View and Minne Lusa for a year at each of the two schools.
Evangelisti was previously a reading specialist at Heritage Elementary School in Bennington, Nebraska, and is making her debut as a school administrator. She had heard good things about Lewis Central and applied for Allred’s position when it opened up.
“I met Kim Jones, director of curriculum and instruction, at a conference, and she was talking about everything that was going on here,” she said. “It sounded really good, and serendipitously a position came open here.”
Evangelisti taught elementary for nine years in Sioux City and worked as a reading specialist in South Sioux City, Nebraska and Bennington.
The two administrators have been working together since early July planning the school year, Evangelisti said.
“She’s been a really great guide,” she said. “I think we’ve done a great job of making sure we’re on the same page.”
Evangelisti earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2003 at Northwestern College in Orange City and started her career in education as a teacher at Sunnyside and Nodland Elementary Schools in Sioux City. She received a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Wayne State College in 2007 and an administration certification at Wayne State in 2018.
Also new to the district are Mandie Reynolds, who replaced Jim Dermody as principal at Lewis Central Middle School when he became activities director at Lewis Central High School; and Erica Kenoyer, who replaced Barb Grell as principal at Kreft Primary School. Reynolds was previously principal at Riverside High School, and Kenoyer was an educational facilitator at the Buffet Early Childhood Institute in Omaha. She was a shared principal for Kreft and Titan Hill for two years before going to the Buffet Early Childhood Institute.