Holy Family School principal is all about giving back and getting involved
By SARAH LIDEEN,
For a typical principal, their daily routine might involve disciplining students and attending meetings, but for Holy Family School Principal Lynn Peterson in Sauk Centre, being a principal is hands-on and getting involved with students.
“The job is a combination of paperwork, working with students and just being available,” said Peterson.
Growing up in Crosby, Peterson graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in education. Peterson found herself working long-term substitute jobs as a teacher until 1980 when she finally found her niche in an intermediate classroom at HFS. In 1994, the school asked her to become principal, and after going back to school at the University of St. Thomas for administrative leadership, she accepted.
Every morning, Peterson greets students as they get off the bus, peeking into classrooms, filling in for teachers and occasionally teaching an art lesson.
“I love art,” said Peterson, who has taught students to draw portraits and more.
Peterson believes in an open door policy for students to stop in and say hi or just to talk. She said that very rarely are students ever in her office to be disciplined, but instead to be praised, like for their Accelerated Reading program.
Students involved in the program vary from grades one through six where they each read a book then are tested on a computer to see if they can comprehend what they read. Points are earned individually, although many classes celebrate an overall goal, something that Peterson is actively involved with and presents a certificate for.
“It’s like how book reports used to be,” said Peterson.
Aside from academics, faith plays a large role in the school’s success and support system, whereas public schools have a different type of support system.
Peterson used the day that the space shuttle exploded and 9/11 as her example.
“When that happened I didn’t know how I was going to teach the rest of the day if I couldn’t stop and pray,” said Peterson. “It’s days like that that makes you catch your breath and say you’re so fortunate we can do this on a daily basis.”
According to Peterson, staff, parents and other volunteers play a huge role at the school.
“When the day is done, they’re gonna be right there to help you out,” said Peterson. “They just give and give.”
Peterson describes walking into HFS with a smile on her face, and said that even on a person’s worst day, walking into the school and hearing children praying in a classroom or singing for the school choir makes everything worth it.
The school’s halls were decorated by Spruce Our School, a group of parents and volunteers that came and decorated the hallways and painted them.
“It’s amazing how families and volunteers work together to give to the school,” said Peterson.
Now, with Catholic Schools Week approaching, students are more excited than ever. Last year, students brought in food for the food shelf and were determined each day to bring in more and more food.
“It’s a celebration of our schools and our faith. We are lucky and fortunate to have Catholic schools,” said Peterson.
This years Catholic Schools Week focuses on a different aspect of the school each day, from parishioners, who make it possible for students to attend the school that might not otherwise be able to afford it, to parents, to staff, and to students.
“It’s different ways we can try to give back a little,” said Peterson. “You get more by giving than receiving and when you see someone else give then you want to give.”
When Peterson finally has some down time, she enjoys reading anything from thrillers to comedies, painting and cooking for others.