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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Board votes to hire principals for PVHS, La Cygne Elementary

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

LA CYGNE – The Prairie View USD 362 Board of Education on Monday, June 12, approved hiring two women to fill the posts of principal at both Prairie View High School and La Cygne Elementary School.

Cynthia Noel, photo at top right, a Prairie View district resident and teacher at La Cygne Elementary. was hired on a unanimous vote to be principal at that school. Her contract begins on Aug. 1.

Noel, who has worked at LES for nine years, will replace Tiffany Ellett, who resigned her job last month to become principal of the larger Cedar Creek Elementary School in the Olathe USD 233 district.

"I am beyond excited and honored to continue my love for education in the Prairie View School District by moving into the La Cygne Elementary Principal position," said Noel in a prepared statement. "I have been in education for 12 years, with nine of those years working as a classroom teacher and math instructional coach at the elementary level in the Prairie View District."

She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and and a master's degree in Building Leadership, both earned at Pittsburg State University.

"My husband, a PV alumnus, and I also have the honor of raising our three sons in the Prairie View School District on our family farm," she said. "I am deeply invested in our fantastic community and excited about the opportunity to work together for the greater good of our students. I am PV Proud!"

The board also voted unanimously to hire Kate Gronquist as principal for Prairie View High School beginning July 1. She will replace Joseph Hornback, who is leaving his responsibility as principal behind and becoming a full-time assistant superintendent for the Prairie View district.

Gronquist, photo at right, is ending a one-year stint as the interim principal and athletic director for Ruppenthal Middle School in the Russell (Kan.) USD 407 district. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher at Council Grove Junior Senior High School and Ulysses High School. Her hiring is contingent on passing a background check.

"I am thrilled to join the Prairie View School District community as the principal of Prairie View High School," Gronquist said in a release for the district.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University. She is, understandably, a huge 'Cats fan.

"I am a lifelong learner who was raised by two teachers," she added. "I believe in setting ambitious goals, capitalizing on individual strengths, and celebrating successes both big and small along the way.

"I look forward to continuing a strong school culture, supporting all students in their journey to post-secondary success, and meeting all of you."

Incoming Prairie View Superintendent Chris Johnson, who was at Monday’s meeting although her contract with the Prairie View district doesn’t start until July 1, had requested that a person be hired as an assistant principal who would report to both PVHS and Prairie View Middle School administrators.

But while most board members agreed that the position would be helpful in support of the two building principals, the consensus was that it would be better to look at creating that position further into the coming school year after they had time to discuss what that person’s duties were.

There was also some concern that the funds to hire that position were reliant on the whether or not Gov. Laura Kelly’s line item veto, which gave public schools more money, would be challenged in the Kansas court system.

After discussing it with the board, Johnson agreed that it would be better to wait until the funding for the position was more secure. She did say, however, that having an assistant principal floating between the two schools would help on disciplinary issues and would allow principals for those schools to get into the classrooms more.

In another notable staffing change, La Cygne Elementary physical education teacher Sydney Barber will transfer to being a pre-kindergarten at-risk teacher at that school. She has been the P.E. teacher at La Cygne for the past 10 years.

Other hires on the academic staff include Michelle Slobodzian as a middle school language arts teacher. She is leaving her post at Turner High School in Kansas City, Kan., to join the PVMS staff.

The board also approved hiring Brock Huber as head high school baseball coach. Huber was an assistant coach at Prairie View last season and an assistant coach for two years before that at Osawatomie. He played college baseball for Ottawa University for four years. He will teach fourth grade at La Cygne this coming year.

The board also hired Chad Jones to be an assistant baseball coach along with Gavin Cullor.

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