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Samsel retires from Pine Hill Elementary in Cottage Grove; new principal hired

Retiring Pine Hill Principal Kevin Samsel in the middle of a first-grade class taught by Diane Kezdicek (right) and Stephanie Masloski on the left. Students include Caleb Boudjouk, Liam Dahlstrom, Noah Haupt, Bryce Henk, Marissa Hebert, Leah Hoffman, Sarah Hoffman, Ellie Hoverson, Cameron Lemke, Elisa Mellingen, Cassie Most, Joseph Norby, Teagan Runkle, Zachary Schuler, Riley Symicek, Leah Wagner and Jack Wirth. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Pine Hill Elementary School Principal Kevin Samsel is retiring at the end of June -- and for real this time.

Samsel came out of retirement to serve as interim principal for one year and stayed for another two years.

Stacy DeCorsey, formerly principal of Jordan Elementary School in Jordan, Minn., will take the reins on July 1, a hiring that was approved by the District 833 School Board last week.

Samsel, on the last school day of the term, served ice cream treats to first-graders as a reward for their good behavior during the year.

After 38 years in education, including 24 in three other districts and 11 years as a teacher, Samsel, in good health, plans to travel and spend more time reading. He'll also volunteer with youth or at a school.

It was a difficult decision, he said last week, but the freedom of being retired is "compelling."

Pine Hill is a great, small school, he said, in a wonderful community.

His time at the school "flew by," he said, adding that it will be difficult to leave the relationships he's developed with staff members.

DeCorsey, principal of Jordan Elementary School for 10 years, has administrative and teaching experience in grades K-12, according to Barb Brown, District 833 communications director.

She is licensed as a principal and superintendent and holds a master's degree from St. Mary's University and undergraduate degree in elementary education and special education from Dakota State University.

In addition to her education accomplishments, DeCorsey was 2009 National Distinguished Principal of the Year, 2009 Hispanic Community Leader and 2010 Dakota State University Educator of the Year.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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