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New principal reigns at Roosevelt Elementary

Renee Kerzman is the new principal at Roosevelt Elementary in Detroit Lakes.

Roosevelt Elementary students have a new principal, and although Renee Kerzman has never taught in Detroit Lakes, she is no stranger around town either.

Kerzman, her husband, John, and their three children have been living in Detroit Lakes since 2000.

And while the three children have been in Detroit Lakes schools since then, (Carly, Jake and Tate are going into fourth, sixth and 10th grades, respectively, this year) Kerzman is just now making the transition from Laker fan to Laker leader.

She officially accepted Roosevelt's principal position (left vacant by Jerry Hanson) at Monday morning's school board meeting, and in doing so, began a new "chapter" in her life.

"I am just so thrilled to be here doing this," said the first-time principal, adding that she's been "prepping" for a position like this one for the past eight years.

That is how long she has been at Minnesota State University Moorhead, working as an instructor of classroom management, director of teacher effectiveness and assistant director of clinical practices.

She worked with student teachers as they entered different school districts, including Detroit Lakes.

"They've (Roosevelt personnel) always been strong partners with the university system, so I've been in there as a university supervisor working with teachers and things," said Kerzman, adding that she wasn't actively looking to leave MSUM, but she just couldn't pass up this opportunity.

"This was such a perfect fit," said Kerzman. "It kind of felt like it was meant to happen -- there were a lot of things that just sort of fell into place." Kerzman -- who earned her bachelor's degree from MSUM, her masters in elementary administration from Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., and her principal/superintendent license from Tri-College (Concordia College, MSUM and North Dakota State University) -- also coached varsity basketball and volleyball and taught for 10 years.

"I taught first, fifth and sixth grades in Wrenshall, Minnesota, Mobridge, South Dakota, and Moorhead."

In fact, it was when she was teaching in Moorhead that her family decided to move to Detroit Lakes -- partly because her husband traveled and partly because they simply liked the area.

"We liked the size of the town," said Kerzman. "We wanted to be involved in the community more...going to sporting events and to feel a little bit more of a small town atmosphere while still being in a school district that would provide our kids with numerous opportunities. We also knew the teachers were really well respected in this area."

Kerzman says she and her husband have built strong community ties through volunteering in local organizations, including her own time volunteering as a coach for the traveling basketball team in Detroit Lakes and just being a fan at her children's various activities.

Kerzman said although being a part of district committees has provided her with a professional relationship with some of the teacher-leaders in Roosevelt, she is still anxious to get in there and get to know them all better.

"My goal right now is just to get communication going with my staff, with the parents and families, as well as with the administrative team here," Kerzman said.

The school board decided to post this particular position as a "one-year" position, giving the district wiggle-room for possible re-structuring next year.

Kerzman said while she hopes the district decides to include her in whatever longer-term plan they come up with, she isn't focused on the possibility of job loss.

"With any job, the first year is a transition, and if you are not effective, that can happen," said Kerzman, "but I'll be in on those conversations and we'll just see what the district needs."

Kerzman officially started her job at Roosevelt Monday, but her first "real" day starts on Tuesday, Sept. 6 -- the first day of school.

"I do know from being here that I've got a great administrative team, a supportive board, and the teachers and staff here are very motivated to do what's best for kids," said Kerzman, "so, I am just so proud to be a leader in this district."