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NYM Principal ready to be ‘face of the high school’

As of July 1, New York Mills High School has had a new hand at the wheel.

Michelle Young-Lecoustre was recently hired to be the new secondary school principal, replacing Blaine Novak as he moves into the position of superintendent.

Young-Lecoustre has a leadership degree from Winona State, a bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences from Mankato State, and is completing her master’s degree in special education at Concordia College.

“I taught social studies for about 15 years, and that took me overseas to West Africa in an international school in Dakar,” Young-Lecoustre explained from her home in Austin, Minn., last week. In Dakar, she taught the children of diplomats, missionaries and others.

Upon returning stateside, she taught at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn., as a long-term substitute teacher before learning of the opening in New York Mills.

“I had heard this name ‘New York Mills’ a thousand times. My dad had a trucking company when I grew up, and they hauled aluminum metal and they had a drop in New York Mills,” she said.

Todd Cameron, the outgoing superintendent, had been a social studies teacher when Young-Lecoustre was in school, so she was already familiar with him, having worked in the same field in the state.

“I think it was just a fateful thing,” she said. “I thought it looked like a nice town and nice community.”

“My dad was excited,” she added with a laugh.

As principal, Young-Lecoustre said her main role will be as an “instructional leader,” presenting and using up-to-date research, developing the school’s professional learning community and extracurricular activities.

Her main goal will be to assess, “Where does New York Mills see themselves at, and where do they see themselves going? And just guide and foster their vision. I’ll help them get to where they want to be.”

“There’s a strong base there already that can be built on,” she added.

Young-Lacoustre also intends to be the “face of the high school” at various athletic events: “I’m all about school spirit and I’m proud to be becoming an Eagle.”

“I feel very welcomed in the community and the people are so friendly and willing to help out, and I really appreciate that,” she added.