Opportunity to develop young minds draws principal


By Laurie Mendenhall

I accepted the offer to become the new principal of Keokuk Catholic Schools way back in April.  At 59 years of age I was looking for an opportunity to motivate myself, teachers and students to become excited about learning new things. 

I’m not sure how much my presence has been a motivating factor for teachers and students, or if my excitement is apparent about all that I’m learning, but my learning curve has been extremely high, and will probably continue to be so for the rest of the year. 

I first had to learn about what keys unlocked which doors, and what keys no longer worked at all.  Light switch locations posed my next problem solving activity.  After walking up and down the halls, flicking switches off and on, I learned. The locked and unlocked files held masses of new learning material, from Davenport Diocesan requirements to state reporting requirements, even to old documents from when the nuns ran the school.

Who are all of these people and forms and secure user names and login passwords from ages ago? I was too frightened to throw away old skeleton keys, 1993 floppy discs with school carnival winners, secret codes or combinations to lockers that were no longer in use.  And the teachers and students had not even arrived for the start of school. 


The teachers arrived. Names, grades taught, husband’s names — are all good to learn so relevant conversations can be carried on. The students arrived and a most important learning objective presented itself: learning their names, brothers, sisters, who’s related to whom and grandparents’ names who I might have known in my early Keokuk life.  Slowly, I’m learning the connections. 

It’s Oct. 14 as I write this, and by golly, a 59-year-old can learn a lot in a short period of time. The human brain is a terrible thing to waste. The young human brain needs to develop to the greatest potential by being challenged, probed, questioned and amazed. I’m here for the opportunity to do just that.

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