'Setting the academic tone': A salute to WAPS principals for Principals Week

WAPS principals

We have some amazing principals in Winona Area Public Schools, including (clockwise from upper left) Maggie Maine, Dawn Lueck, Mark Anderson and Emily Cassellius.

Earlier this week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed that Oct. 5-11 was Principals Week. 

“Principals set the academic tone for their schools and work collaboratively with teachers to develop and maintain high curriculum standards, develop mission statements, and set performance goals and objectives for students,” Walz said in the proclamation. 

To help celebrate Principals Week in Winona Area Public Schools, we asked some of our outstanding principals to share a little bit about themselves and why they like being a principal. 

Emily Cassellius is in her third year as principal at both Goodview Elementary and the Winona Area Learning Center, but she has been a part of the WAPS family for 16 years. She taught elementary at Goodview and W-K in first, second and third grades. 

“The thing I like most about being a principal is being able to support, encourage and show love to all the people that play an important role in a child’s education: students, staff and families,” she said. 

Dawn Lueck, the principal at Washington-Kosciusko Elementary, is in her fifth year with WAPS and has been an administrator for 12 years. She taught for 21 years as a Grade 5-12 Language Arts teacher and coached softball, basketball and volleyball. Eighteen of those years were just up the road at Lewiston-Altura High School.

“I love being a principal because I get to work with amazing staff, students and families. It is so fun to watch students and staff learn and grow and become the best versions of themselves and our W-K community,” she said. 

Jacob Feldman has been a teacher for the past 15-plus years, including 10 in Winona. He was recently named the assistant principal at WSHS, but hasn’t yet transitioned into that role. He will soon.

“What I am looking forward to the most is being able to help and support all of the students and staff at the high school so they can have the best learning experience possible,” he said. 

Feldman will be working with Mark Anderson, who is in his 15th year of being a principal. He’s spent five years as principal at the high school, five at the middle school and was the assistant principal at the high school for five years before that. He was also an elementary school teacher and also helped train staff on how to use technology and data in their daily instruction.

“I like being out in the building and talking with students, and going into the classroom to see our teaching staff instruct students in the content areas we have,” Anderson said. 

Jolene Danca, the assistant principal at the middle school, has been an administrator in WAPS for five years. She previously was a reading and language arts teacher.

“I like having the opportunity every day to build up students and colleagues to become the best versions of themselves,” Danca said. 

Maggie Maine is in her second year as principal at Jefferson Elementary. She was previously a business education teacher and robotics coach at a high school. 

“I love Winona and the community. I enjoy working with students and families outside of the school building and making an impact beyond our four walls,” she said. 

Mark Winter has been a principal in one way or another for nine years. He taught physical education and DAPE when he was a teacher, then was the activities director for 10 years. 

"I like seeing kids," he said. "My favorite time is in the morning when students are entering the building and I can greet them."