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Oltman receives new admin team

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Oltman Junior High School in St. Paul Park has a new administrative team this year: interim principal Rebecca Schroeder and assistant principal Chris Palmatier.

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For the past two years, Schroeder has served as School District 833's Director of Curriculum. Prior to that, she was an assistant principal at Park High School for three years. Her experience includes 16 years of teaching and administrative assignments in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District 196.

Schroeder's "interim" title means she will have to reapply for the principal's position in the spring, she said.

Before moving to Oltman, Palmatier was assistant principal at Lake Junior High School in Woodbury, and prior to that he taught eighth-grade English at Cottage Grove Junior High School for 12 years.

"I miss the kids, I miss the energy," Schroeder said about her move to Oltman.

Her main goal this year is to develop relationships with staff and students, she said. "I don't want lots of change this year; they are already doing good things here."

Schroeder is looking at ways to move Oltman closer to the middle school orientation, which will take effect for the 2009-10 school year.

"I'm really middle school at heart," she said. "In middle school, it's all about connecting. Aaron Harper (Oltman's previous principal) made some changes in the middle school direction and I will take it to the next level."

She is looking at community outreach, part of the district's long-term strategic plan. Oltman is the only school in the district that has a community involvement coordinator. Luis Saenz was hired in January to promote student-parent-community participation.

"Luis' job is still evolving," she said. Saenz is in the process of putting together a resource center for parents at Oltman. He is coordinating a display of community businesses and organizations for the school's open house scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, and he has written a Minnesota After-School Community Learning Program grant. "If the grant goes through, we could open the school on Saturdays for students to use for academic and non-academic activities," Schroeder said.

Palmatier made the move to Oltman because he likes the challenge. "Every day is different; you couldn't make up all the things that happen," he said.

"The challenge is how can we continue to support our students, how to help them achieve, how to show them that education is important -- now more than ever," Palmatier said. "So many things compete for their time."

He said assistant principals are responsible for student behavior. "Teachers call me if they're having a problem with a student," he said. "I'm all for being proactive, rewarding kids, getting out to meet the families.

"Anything I can do to be proactive is time well spent," he said.

Toni Lambert can be reached at tlambert@swcbulletin.com.

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