Danca 'thrilled' to take over as WALC principal

Jolene Danca, middle, poses with sons Logan, left, and Riley.

Jolene Danca, middle, poses with sons Logan, left, and Riley. Danca was recently named principal of the Winona Area Learning Center.

The teaching career of Jolene Danca started in a middle school area learning center. 

More than 20 years later, she’s thrilled to return to an ALC — this time as its leader.

Danca recently was named the principal of the Winona Area Learning Center in an administrative reorganization that affects two Winona Area Public Schools buildings. She replaces Emily Cassellius, who will remain as the full-time principal at Goodview Elementary. 

“My mantra is ‘Whatever it takes,’ and I believe that wholeheartedly,” Danca said. “This is an incredibly important job in our district to guide and support our students in becoming successful, confident and self-sufficient young adults.”

Danca previously served as the assistant principal at Winona Middle School and Winona Senior High School. She has remained an advocate for alternative learning, and helped start the WMS ALC program — DEEDs (Discover, Explore, Engage, Develop).

“Together with our dedicated staff of the WALC, I will work with students, families and the greater Winona community to ensure we are addressing and meeting the diverse needs of our students,” Danca said. “I look forward to fostering relationships, respect and resilience to create a path to a productive future for every WALC student.”

In addition to serving as principal of the WALC, Danca will also serve as the principal of the new WAPS Online Academy and oversee the district’s targeted services programming. 

Cassellius, who previously split her time between the WALC and Goodview, will now be at Goodview full-time. She will also serve as the coordinator of the district’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports, a framework that organizes the district’s resources to address each individual student’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs within intervention tiers that vary in intensity. The MTSS work is done in partnership with the University of Minnesota Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.

“I will definitely miss the students and staff at the ALC,” Cassellius said. “Amazing things happen there every day, and I am thankful for the three years I was able to be a part of that team. Being full-time at Goodview will allow me to be present for students, families and staff daily. My role as the coordinator for MTSS throughout the district excites me. This is important work that will benefit all the students within WAPS.”