Archive for Monday, August 19, 1996

THE PRINCIPAL OF THE THING

August 19, 1996

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The new principal at Pinckney School already is feeling comfortable.

Lesa Frantz, new principal at Pinckney School, is well aware that's she's following in the footsteps of a principal who was something of an institution.

But Frantz, 39, is her own woman and will be her own principal. And she's received a great deal of support from her predecessor, Gary Freeman, a 23-year veteran at Pinckney.

"In some ways," Frantz said, "it's difficult because I'm not going to be Gary. ... But I'm not going to come in and make sweeping changes."

The always-organized Freeman left Frantz a folder containing information she'd need for her first few days on the job.

"This has been Gary's school, and he wants it to succeed," said Frantz, who was principal at Basehor Elementary School for four years before taking the job at Pinckney.

Frantz is looking forward to having a good relationship with each of Pinckney's staff members and students. The school is less than half the size of Basehor Elementary, which appeals to Frantz.

"This is a great size, and it is possible to really take responsibility for all of the kids in this school," she said.

That's the bottom line: taking responsibility for children. And it should apply to everyone, Frantz said.

"Everyone takes ownership of all of the kids in school," she said.

After officially starting her job on July 1, Frantz spent time getting to know her new school building -- where workers installed central air conditioning this summer -- and her new staff.

"All of the full-time teachers have come in and met with me and the majority of the support people have, too," she said.

The discussions have centered mostly on getting to know one another. But staff members also have been curious about the new principal's view on curriculum and discipline.

Frantz believes her philosophies mesh well with what exists at Pinckney, 810 W. Sixth.

"This is a good situation," she said.

And she plans to follow advice given to her long ago: Sit back and take a breath and see what's going on before making changes.

When Frantz took the job at Basehor Elementary, she and her husband, Danny, chose to live in Lawrence. Now, she's eager to be closer to her twin 22-month-old daughters, Summer and Ariana.

Before taking on the principalship in Basehor, Frantz was principal for seven years at a school for kindergartners through eighth-graders in Alma. And she was a vocal music and band teacher for six years at West Indianola Grade School in the Seaman school district north of Topeka.

After growing up on a farm north of Topeka, Frantz earned two degrees from Washburn University in Topeka -- a bachelor's in music education in 1979 and a master's in education administration in 1984.

Frantz is looking forward to working more closely with teachers and students at Pinckney than she was able to at the larger Basehor school. Initially, she plans to read to every class every other week. And if teachers are working on a special project, they can expect their principal to be a helping hand.

"Being there more for the teachers will be important," she said.

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