With students and teachers on summer break, schools are quiet in July, offering administrators time for some behind-the-scenes work. At St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Waunakee, veteran principal Liz Goldman is training Kalee Kozinski, who will succeed Goldman as principal for the 2022-23 year.
Both are taking the next step in their careers. Kozinski has taught at St. John’s since 2015 and is looking forward to becoming principal, and Goldman, principal for the past four years, will be the associate superintendent for the Diocese of Green Bay, where Goldman calls home.
She’ll be an administrator for seven systems and 23 independent parochial schools.
“I’m sad to be leaving here, but I’m excited for the next step,” she said.
Goldman seems confident that the school will be in good hands with Kozinski, whom she has mentored.
“I’m excited to see what happens with Kalee – she’s wonderful; she’ll do a fantastic job,” Goldman said.
Goldman’s vision when she started was to grow St. John’s School within the community, and enrollment has increased in those years, going from just three eighth-graders graduating in Goldman’s first year to a class of 16 this year.
“In the four years, we went from having a combination seventh- and eighth-grade class to having three individual sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes,” Goldman said, adding the size of the middle school tripled.
The larger classes of older students have benefited the school, providing leadership opportunities for the older students and giving younger students older classmates to look up to, Goldman added.
Goldman is now teaching Kozinski some of the administrative tasks, such as the school information system, calendars and scheduling. She’s also coaching her on making the transition from teacher to administrator and working with her peers in that capacity, she said.
Goldman made the same transition in Virginia, prior to joining St. John’s as principal.
She said she knows St. John’s teachers and staff support Kozinski. In Goldman’s new position, one of her responsibilities is to mentor new principals, so she’ll have the chance to continue her work with Kozinski.
“I’m very thankful for that, stepping into a brand new role for myself, to have such an awesome mentor who I can just call,” Kozinski said.
The two have worked closely, Goldman said, noting that Kozinski has been training for the position without knowing it. She also filled in for Goldman when Goldman was out on medical leave.
One of Kozinski’s goals in her new role is to ensure the curriculum is up to date and is best for the students and teachers, she said. New science texts have arrived. She also wants to ensure the teachers have the right tools and training, she said.
“Having grown the middle school so much, we really want to make sure our curriculum is evolving as they kids do, so I think updating this is really going to help our students strive,” Kozinski said.
She has a theme for the upcoming school year: Choose Joy.
Kozinski grew up in New Prague, Minnesota, near the Twin Cities, and attended UW-Eau Claire. Her mother was a teacher for 30 years, she said. She played softball and volleyball and figure skated. She also played flute and alto saxophone. In college, she participated in the marching band, where she met her husband. She then began teaching at St. John’s.
Kozinski continues to compete in sports and coaches.
Kozinski earned her master’s degree at Cardinal Stritch University, in addition to her principal’s license and curriculum and instruction license.
She said he felt a calling from fellow teachers to be principal after they heard Goldman was leaving.
Goldman called it a “natural transition.”
Kozinski said she’s excited to see more of the students and teachers, rather than just her own class as a teacher, and said the building is a bit lonely without the students.
Kozinski planned to host Playtime in the Playground for students several times this summer, including one day to say goodbye to Goldman last Friday.
“It gets them together and new families, too, to be able to meet some kids in their class and… meet me, if some of the kids haven’t,” Kozinski said. “It keeps me connected with them because I miss them.”
This article has been corrected to include the correct spelling of Liz Goldman’s name.