by Cori Hilsgen
Diane Moeller, Kennedy Community School’s principal, will leave Kennedy for six months to cover another position in the St. Cloud School District.
Moeller will take over Assistant Superintendent Julia Espe’s duties as director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. Moeller said her position will not be as assistant superintendent. The position is expected to last for six months, from Jan. 2 through June 30.
Espe has accepted a position as the interim superintendent for Princeton Public Schools.
St. Cloud Superintendent Bruce Watkins appointed Moeller to the interim position. She said Watkins has been very supportive of Kennedy and herself during the past several years, and she felt this was one way she could show support back to him and the district.
“While I am excited to have a new challenge and help out, I am of course sad to be leaving a place I love,” Moeller said. “ Kennedy is certainly my passion. I love everything about my job.”
Moeller grew up in Waite Park and graduated from Apollo High School. She attended St. Cloud State University and majored in elementary education and music. Moeller then earned her master’s degree in education from SCSU and her administration degree from St. Mary’s University in Winona. Currently, she has completed all but her dissertation to complete a doctorate in educational leadership from St. Mary’s.
“From about the sixth grade on, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Moeller said. “I never looked back. I still know that is what I was meant to do. I have a pretty strong belief system in how to make learning engaging for kids.”
Moeller began her teaching career in 1977 at Richmond Elementary in Richmond. She taught first grade and third grade in the Cold Spring Rocori School District for 22 years. She was nominated as Teacher of the Year in 1996 and was one of 10 state finalists.
Moeller said she enjoyed teaching, but felt something was calling her to lead. She became the principal of Kennedy and has been there for the past 14 years. She said she believes she has done a good job as the principal and was even named the “National Distinguished Principal” in 2006.
During Moeller’s years as principal of Kennedy, the school has grown from a K-4 school to a PreK-8 school. Its enrollment has increased from 216 to 800 students.
Fourth-grade teacher Carol Ramler said Kennedy staff and students will miss Moeller.
“Her presence will be missed because her care for students and staff is evident every day,” Ramler said.
Moeller said Kennedy families are wonderfully supportive and involved and care about their kids.
“It makes the work of a school principal that much more rewarding to have that kind of support,” Moeller said.
As of now, Moeller said they are unsure as to who will be placed at Kennedy for the rest of the year.
“The staff is a strong, hard-working staff,” Moeller said. “The students are well into their routines for the year. I am so confident teaching and learning will continue in just a fine manner. I will certainly miss the kids most of all.”
Moeller has been married to Ralph for 34 years. They have two married daughters, Amy and Angie. Both daughters are graduates of the College of St. Benedict, and both married graduates of St. John’s University. Both daughters were married in 2007 – three months apart. Moeller said it was a rather busy time, especially since it was during the time period the new Kennedy was being built.
photo by Cori Hilsgen
Diane Moeller, Kennedy Community School principal, is surrounded by fourth-grade students who are asking many questions as to why she is leaving the school. Moeller is filling in as interim director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for six months and then plans to return to Kennedy.
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Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.