Monday, May 25, 2020

Stites named new ZED principal

Every so often the right person is in the right place at the right time and that seems to be case for Amy Stites who was recently hired as principal for the Zumbro Education District (ZED) Area Learning Center (ALC).

            This position allows her to do something she’s been excited about most of her career.

“I’ve always been very interested in alternative education,” she said.

She spent her first 15 years in Rochester at John Adams Middle School. Then, the opportunity to go over to the Rochester ALC came up.

            “I jumped at it, just because I love to connect with kids and I was able to do that at the ALC,” Stites explained.

            Three years ago, she was one of the co-creators for Apex Recovery School, the sober school that’s within the ALC in Rochester. That’s what I had been doing for the last three years, but she was also working on my administrator license.  

“I finished my administrator license this past May, and most people get an assistant role to learn the ropes and eventually you get a principal job so I wasn’t expecting this, but when the opening was posted, Andrew’s [ZED ALC School Counselor Andrew Petersilie] wife is the one who put it on social media and then she called me and asked if I was interested,” she said. “Of course, I was interested. I really enjoyed working for Rochester, but professionally I really wanted to take that step and get into educational leadership.”

Another factor that drove to apply for the ZED opening is that Rochester has a lot of “very talented” teachers who have their administrator’s license who are all waiting for the few jobs that open.

Stites said those two motivators and since she’s from Byron she’s already “a fan of this community,” made her want to step into this role.

“My experience in Rochester, I think prepared me well. I’ve done regular education, special education; I’ve done sober school, taught every grade from kindergarten through twelfth, I have extensive coaching background I basically ran the entire district’s gymnastics program and coached at John Marshall High School, Mayo High School, and Century High School,” she said. “All of my experience has really went to this and I just took the gamble and put my application in and they called me and said they wanted to interview me and I thought ‘Awesome!’”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now that she has the job, Stites sees a bright future for the ZED ALC.

“What intrigued me about me the job is there’s a ton of potential moving forward,” she said. “They want to do a new building, which hands down these kids deserve a facility that matches their resilience and matches their commitment to learning. We’re right there ready to take that next step if we have that support behind us so that’s so important right now. I realize it’s [getting a new building] up to each independent school board and I’m just hoping that they believe in us as much as I believe in us.”


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