Crookston native Kelsey (Palmer) Johnson graduated from CHS in 2006 and UMC in 2010

Youth must be served, which should be the motto of Kelsey Johnson, the new Roseau High School assistant principal and Community Education director.

    A young lady herself she will wear two hats this coming fall after having taught elementary students for seven years in Thief River Falls and then last year at Lincoln High School in TRF as the Technology Integration Specialist.

    Johnson is brimming with enthusiasm about her new responsibilities.

    Recently the Crookston native spoke by cellphone from her home in Thief River Falls.

    She is the mother of Odin, 4, and Augusta, 2, which makes for a busy schedule She agreed that her son and daughter have unusual names.

    "My husband Zach is very Scandinavian-Norwegian. We kind of went with that" she said and laughed.

    And your nationality?

    "I'm kind of a mutt, a mix of different things  -  Norwegian, lots of German and lots of French," she said, adding that she graduated from Crookston High School in 2006.

    Play any sports?

    "I played hockey and soccer," she said, adding that she was part of the first
year Lady Pirates hockey team.

    "I played hockey for fun but soccer was my sport and I played soccer in college, too," she said

    Were you a high school valedictorian?

    "No, I had good grades but I wasn't the valedictorian, unfortunately. I did well in school and really enjoyed it, enjoyed my experiences and had really great teachers," she said. "So that's definitely one of the reasons why I went into education. I've had a lot of great teachers who influenced me. I just felt it was something I wanted to do and something I wanted to be a part of."

    Johnson graduated from the University of Minnesota Crookston in 2010 with a degree in elementary education and was a member of the varsity soccer team. "We were okay, we weren't the greatest team but we were pretty competitive," she said. "It was a fun time and I love being a team player and love being part of a team. So that was something I enjoyed during college."

    She laughs often.

    "Right out of college I got a job that summer in Thief River Falls as a kindergarten teacher," she said.

    She taught kindergarten for the first two years and then second grade for the next five years before moving up to the high school level.

    She chuckled when asked if she is tall and imposing.

    "I'm a short girl, very short" she said.

    But she has spunk.

    "I earned a master's degree in Reading Education from the University of North Dakota and I will complete my Educational Leadership Specialist Degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead this summer," she said.

    Next, the topic centered on her family, as she mentioned that her parents Tim and Kristie Palmer are business owners in Crookston

    "My husband Zach graduated from Thief River Falls in 2005 and works at Digi
Key as a senior marketing manager. My mother in law Diane Johnson works for the Thief River Falls school district and I actually met her before I met my husband," she said, noting that Diane Johnson had been a music teacher at the elementary level but is now a reading teacher.

    There is no definite date when Roseau's new assistant principal and her family will move to Roseau.

    "We are in the middle of a kitchen remodeling, so our kitchen is ripped apart this summer. We're going to get that done as fast as we can and evaluate what's going on here in Thief River," she said. "Do we want to build in Roseau? We're still talking about it."

    For the first few months this fall Mrs. Johnson might be commuting to Roseau while their house in TRF is up for sale.

    "The first of August is my first day on the job," she said, and then explained that while she hadn't been looking for this position, administration has always been her goal.

    "This past year I was lucky enough to get an opportunity at the secondary level to get some experience and see what it’s like," she said, recalling the school year when she was the Technology Integration Specialist at Lincoln High School.

    "Last summer they were looking for someone to fill that position and I got a call from the high school principal. I was a little nervous because I had been an elementary girl for a long time," she said.

    Kelsey Johnson adheres to the adage of "Take Advantage of One's Opportunities."

    By stepping up to the high school level at Lincoln High School a year ago it was a revelation.

    "It was a great opportunity to figure out if it would ever be an option for me to be an administrator at the high school level. So I took the opportunity, loved it , absolutely loved working with kids at that age level and loved working with the staff at the high school level. There's something about each level that's really special, but I really did enjoy my last year at Lincoln," she said. "My principal licensure is K-12 and I decided that I had better take a chance and try the high school out and see if I liked it."

    She did and ended up applying for the assistant principal position in Roseau this past June.

    "I'm from the area I want to stay in the area and I think there's just something special about the people in northern Minnesota. I know a few people who live in Roseau and when the position became available I gave them a call and said, 'Tell me what it's like, I want to know what the Roseau School District is all about' The people I talked to had nothing but awesome things to say. They said the staff is wonderful the kids are amazing and so I kind of took a shot in the dark and applied. I gave Ivan Hirst the Roseau High School principal a call, got an interview and the rest is history,” she said.

    She understands that her new position will be challenging.

    "Discipline is definitely a huge part of the position but so is helping kids who are struggling and don't feel like school is their place. I had a lot of opportunities this last year to fill in for our dean of students and I had the opportunity to work with kids who just hadn't found their niche as far as school and didn't feel like school was for them,” she said.

    She is looking ahead to the coming school year and assisting those students who might be struggling.

    "I think it's a great opportunity to get to know the kids and just get them excited about school again and finding a place for them where they fit in," she said.

    It's like bringing in a new coach.

    "I'm excited to work with the staff. From everybody I've heard from it sounds like they're a high-quality staff and they're excited for a change and they're ready for a new school year,” Johnson said.

    She laughed when told it was only the first week of July and they probably weren't that excited to go back to school quite yet.

    "I'm excited to meet everybody. I think it's going to be just an awesome opportunity and I think it's going to be a lot of fun," she said. "I am thrilled to be a part of the Roseau community and look forward to a wonderful year!"