Keokuk school seeks principal


By Celine Klosterman

KEOKUK – Keokuk Catholic Schools is seeking a new administrator as Principal Laurie Mendenhall prepares to retire and Assistant Principal Sharon Kokemuller plans to resign.

Mendenhall has served for the past two years at the school, which has 70 students in kindergarten to fifth grade and 40 preschoolers.

“I need to hand the job over to someone young and energetic,” she said. “The school is ready for a new administrator who knows about technology.” She noted she didn’t buy a cell phone or home computer until taking the position of principal in 2009.


Kokemuller came out of retirement to join Keokuk Catholic Schools part-time last year after Mendenhall sought her assistance, and the two administrators share a full-time salary. The assistant principal said she’s leaving “in fairness to the new principal, who would want a full-time job with full-time pay.”

“Laurie and I have had a good relationship and working conditions; I wish everyone had this opportunity. We feel good about what we accomplished.”

The principals implemented a Thinkers Class enrichment program and increased technology throughout the school, said Jessica Koehler, school board president. “They are both very knowledgeable in education and our community. They work well with the board, staff, parents and students, and therefore will be greatly missed.” 

Mendenhall noted the school put up a new roof after leaks led to flooding in fall 2010 and added playground equipment. This year, Keokuk Catholic Schools also marked its first year without sixth, seventh and eighth grades. “We’ve been through a lot, but the teachers are a cohesive group.”

In retirement, she said, she and her husband Max plan to spend more time with their daughter Katie, a Louisville, Ky., resident who’s expecting her second child in October. Max is retiring from teaching at Keokuk High School this year.

“I’m going to slow down, do some gardening,” Mendenhall said.

Kokemuller plans to spend a couple months in Florida with her son and daughter-in-law who are expecting a child in November. Then she will return to Keokuk and explore options in the education field and volunteer at Keokuk Catholic Schools, she said.

She and Kokemuller said they’re willing to advise the new principal if needed.

For details on applying for the position, see the classified ad on this page of The Catholic Messenger. “We are keeping our options open and will see what we get from our ad,” Koehler said.

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