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Principal to leave HOTL: School’s staffing model will change

Kari Yates is leaving her position as Heart of the Lakes Elementary School Principal to take on the role of Program Manager for Literacy and English Learners with Moorhead Public Schools.

“I just have an opportunity that feels like it’s a really good match and a really good next step for me,” she said in an interview. “I’m going to a position that is essentially a focus on curriculum and instruction.”

“Curriculum and instruction, particularly literacy, has been a career-long area of passion for me,” she explained, noting that, as the principal at HOTL, only a small portion of her time was spent on instructional leadership.

Additionally, Yates is excited about the opportunity to live closer to her extended family, which is centered in the Fargo-Moorhead area. She said the new job will be “kind of a coming home experience” for her.

However, she was quick to point out that her decision to leave Perham, which she described as “an amazing place,” was not an easy one.

“It’s really hard to leave this place,” she said. “The staff is incredible. The students and families have been wonderful to work with. And you can’t beat the Perham community anywhere.”

Perham-Dent Superintendent Mitch Anderson said that “the big thing we’ll be missing with Kari is, as a principal, she handled all aspects of the job extremely well.”

As she left last week’s school board meeting, several board members offered her their congratulations and more than a few hugs.

“We’re going to miss you, Kari,” said board member Michael Hamann.

“It’s really bittersweet to leave. I have very mixed emotions because I think I’m going to something really good, but I think I’m leaving something truly great,” Yates said, adding that, “I’m excited to carry my experience from Heart of the Lakes with me wherever I go moving forward.”

Principal, instructional coach to be separate roles

Earlier this year, the school board eliminated one of the district’s part-time literacy coaching positions as part of a broader set of cost-containment measures, while Yates absorbed the duties of the position.

With Yates’ departure, the district was effectively left with a 1.5 full-time equivalent position to fill. The board felt that the incoming HOTL principal, who Superintendent Mitch Anderson said will probably be hired sometime this week, might be overwhelmed by the duties of both principal and literacy coach.

At Yates’ urging, the board unanimously agreed to add a .5 full-time equivalent literacy coach position. Renamed  “instructional coach,” the position will be similar to the one that was eliminated earlier, but will have a broader focus that will include writing and math.

On Tuesday, Anderson said the position had been filled by Michelle Bormann, who previously taught second grade at HOTL, making her “very familiar” with Perham’s elementary education system.