August 25, 2019


Welcome to the 2019-20 school year and the first Principal’s Post of the year.  We can’t wait to get started!  Who wouldn’t want to be “under the sea” or gather around the campfire in Mrs. Motto’s and Mrs. Putnam’s kindergarten rooms!

It feels as if you’re under the sea in Mrs. Motto’s room.
Let’s share a good story around the campfire in Mrs. Putnam’s room.


Principal’s Posts are written each weekend and posted on our website, available off the front page.  I also send a link via email and post it to the school’s Facebook account.  It then gets sent home via hard copy via “backpack mail” with the “youngest or only child” in a family at the beginning of each week.  I use the Principal’s Post to reach the whole school community and sometimes highlight happenings in particular grades.  It does not replace the many communications you will receive from your children’s teachers.

We also utilize a JFK Facebook page, and there is a closed Facebook group, JFK Moms & Dads, where people can post to others in the group.  JFK’s Facebook page can be accessed from the front page of our website.  If you’d like to be a member of the JFK Moms & Dads group, please let Angie Hillebrand, in the school office know via a Facebook request or even via email.   Social media is not the best venue for voicing a concern, and posts that appear to do so will be removed while we try to reach out to address the concern through a better means.  Social media, including our Facebook pages, are great ways to share your photos and connect with other JFK families.  Photos from an event are often posted to these pages by families before we can even get photos taken by staff posted.  Make sure you “like” us on both Facebook pages!

Highlighted Events and Headlines on the front page of our website also tend to be updated each weekend.

New Staff Members

JFK welcomes Norma Kuehn and Sara Nicoletto to the teaching staff.  Mrs. Kuehn has previous teaching experience in the middle school grades at Prince of Peace in Clinton and a Florida Catholic school.  She will be teaching in the 7th and 8th grades at JFK.  Mrs. Nicoletto returns to our staff, this time as a “regular” teacher.  Mrs. Nicoletto previously worked for us as an instructional aide and then as a substitute teacher.  She teaches in the 6th grade, the middle school Spanish exploratory, and resource.  Fr. Fortunatas is also spending some time in the building working with Ms. Siefers on his tech internship.

We are currently without a full-time counselor.  The person we hired in May backed out to take a better paying position, and several others have declined the position when offered to them.  As we continue our search, including meeting with someone this week, Jodi Weiser will provide students with counseling services.  Mrs. Weiser, who utilized her M.A. in counseling to provide services at a prior school, will be teaching part time and providing services part time.

Due to the part time teaching position created by the open counseling position, we also have a part time teaching position available.  This position is for 5th grade and/or as a reading interventionist.

We also have a 6-8 hours per week Title I funded interventionist position available to provide math support for elementary-age students.  The teaching positions require K-6 IA licenses.  Finally, JFK’s board of education authorized additional instructional aide hours to assist students and teachers in elementary classes and supervisory duties.  All of the positions can be filled independently or combined.

Parent Meetings Different this Year

All K-8 parent meetings will be Thursday.  Session I is from 6:00 – 6:30.  It is then repeated for session II at 6:45 – 7:15.  Come to the first session for your 2nd grader, and then stay for your 6th grader at session II.  Have a busy night?  Split duties with your spouse and simultaneously attend session I with one of you going to your 3rd grader’s meeting and one going to your 5th grader’s meeting.  Parent meetings will be in one of the grade level homeroom classrooms with the exception of the 7th and 8th grade parent meetings.  Because 7th and 8th graders share so many of the same teachers, the parent meetings will be combined and held in the parish center.

Altar Server Trainings

All boys and girls of the parish in 4th grade and up who are interested in being an altar server are invited to attend training in the church on Saturday, September 14th from 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  At least one parent is needed to complete the necessary paperwork. If you have any questions, please contact the Parish office at 563-391-4245.

Confirmation Parent Meetings for 7th and 8th Graders

OLV’s Confirmation preparation is considered a two year process.  The 7th grade parent meeting is at 6:00 p.m. on September 5th in the parish center.  The 8th grade meeting follows at 7:00 p.m.

JFK/AHS Spirit Wear Day on Friday

Our first JFK/AHS Spirit Wear Day is Friday.  Students may wear any JFK or AHS spirit wear along with uniform pants/skirts/bottoms.

Labor Day

Monday, September 2 is Labor Day.  There are no classes, and ECLC is closed.

Parish Picnic

The OLV parish picnic is Saturday, September 21st after the 4:30 p.m. Mass. Golf carts will be available to take people from the parking lot to the school grounds and handicap seating will be available.  Bring your lawn chairs and your appetite as we will be serving BBQ catered by Smokin’ Butt BBQ, iced tea, lemonade, coffee and water.  Beer and wine coolers will be available for purchase. Music and fun for all!  Tickets are $1 each and free for children 5 and under.  (Children still need tickets so we can get an accurate attendance count.)  Tickets will be sold each weekend until September 14 in the Gathering Space. Tickets may also be purchased at the parish and school offices.  In addition to your ticket you are asked to bring a dish to share.  Please bring a serving utensil and mark all dishes and utensils with your name for return:
Last name ending in:
A – H bring Desserts     I – P bring Vegetables     Q – Z bring Salads

Plenty of volunteers are also needed.  Click HERE or use the following link/url to sign up to help:

Handbook Sign-Off

Please read the parent and student handbook, available HERE, and on our website:  Then, print off the last page, sign it, and return it to the school office — one per family.  Thank you for helping us to reduce our printing costs.

School Policies Highlighted
I would like to thank the parents and staff who helped review parent/student handbook policies this spring or provided feedback on specific policies:  Each year we review about 1/3 of the policies in our handbook, and every year the four dress code related policies are reviewed.  Below are highlights of some of the changes:
  • The OLV/JFK campus is also a “vape-free” environment.
  • There are no grade level restrictions on the plaid uniform skirts or jumpers
  • In preparation for new mid-term progress reports and report cards, the grading marks were changed for “specials,” which are art, band, choir, general music, and PE.
  • The details of the 6th-8th grade athletic eligibility policy were tweaked.
  • Numerous changes were made to the wellness policy.
  • A new policy was written that shares the guidelines we use for physical activity and other issues that are affected by the temperature and weather.

Reminder:  Smart watches are in the same category as “cell phones and other electronic devices” and prohibited from use between 7:00 a.m. and until students leave the building.  Because staff members are not able to tell which Smart Watches and FitBits are connected to data plans or phones in one’s locker, all such devices will be prohibited.

OLV parish bulletin:  Click HERE or use the following link/url:

An Update About Me and My Family

I am beginning my 19th year as principal at JFK.  Each year brings new challenges and has its own excitement.  I’ll share some of the good things we have going on at JFK in future Principal’s Posts.  Prior to coming to JFK, I worked for ten years at Assumption High School where I taught religion for nine years and then worked in student services for one year.  I grew up in South Milwaukee, WI, and attended Marquette University in Milwaukee for my bachelor’s degree in sociology and theology.  I received a master’s degree in religion from the University of Chicago, and my master’s degree in education administration is from Western Illinois University.  My superintendent’s certificate work was done through the University of Northern Iowa.  I have additional coursework at the graduate and/or undergraduate level from St. Ambrose, the University of Iowa, and Drake University.

Lynn and I have been married for 24 years.  She holds two degrees from St. Ambrose and one from Drake University.  Together, we are cash poor but education rich!  Lynn works in the student services office at Assumption High School, where we met.  She is also a graduate of Assumption and St. Paul’s.

Our four children continue to scatter.  Our oldest, Colleen, is in Charlotte, North Carolina.  I’m not quite sure what she does, but I think it’s in the financial sector.  She has degrees from Ashford University and the University of Dubuque.  Tom moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he has returned to school to pursue his BA after receiving his Associates’ degree several years ago in Iowa.  The part I find ironic though is he’s taking online classes, mostly through the University of Iowa!  Kirsten graduated from St. Ambrose in December with a degree in elementary education and subbed during the second semester.  She is entering her first year as a teacher in the Des Moines public schools.  Caitlin is in her third year at the University of Kansas and has begun taking the LSAT, which is the entrance exam for law school.  It’s getting harder and harder to have everyone together at one time.  We managed one weekend right after Father’s Day this year!

Lynn and I visited my parents and one of my sisters in the Atlanta area this summer.  I enjoyed doing some woodworking with my dad.  At 83, he still spends about 3-4 hours a day in the workshop.  My mom still keeps an immaculately clean home and makes dozens and dozens of hats, mittens, scarves and prayer shawls for their church.  Being with family is always a good reminder of the need to maintain a healthy work/family balance.

I better sign off now, or my balance will be thrown off for the weekend.  See you on Thursday!