STERLING – When students and teachers at two Sterling elementary schools show up for the first day of classes on Aug. 18, each school will have a new leader.
Amy Springman, 30, is the new principal at Franklin Elementary School. She replaces Suzi Hesser, who became a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School.
Steve Etheridge, 31, has been named principal at Washington Elementary School. He replaces Matt Birdsley, who will become principal at Challand Middle School in the fall.
Springman, a 2002 Sterling High School graduate, is a product of two local school districts: She spent 8 years as a first-grade teacher in the Dixon School District before coming to Sterling.
She has two master's degrees: one in educational leadership from St. Xavier University in Chicago and an administrative endorsement from Aurora University in Aurora.
One of the things Springman wants to do is connect with students.
"At the end of the day, your students are going to remember you from the relationships you have formed," she said.
Springman is also excited to be able to help educate younger students.
"I have seen the importance of what good leadership in a building can do for students and staff," she said, "and I am hoping to set the same tone for a great school."
Etheridge is a Moline High School graduate who was an elementary school teacher in that district. When it comes to the new job, "I'm excited and nervous at the same time," he said.
"I know I have a lot to learn," he said, "and I'm going to rely on my staff here and other colleagues when I have difficulties."
He has a master's degree in elementary education from the online University of Phoenix, which gave him the certification to teach elementary education.
Etheridge said he plans no immediate changes. Instead, he wants to evaluate what is going on in the school.
"I'm not the type of guy that will come in and make major changes, because the previous principal before me did a wonderful job," he said. "My goal for the first year is to get to know the teachers and support staff and decide where the needs are and go from there."
One thing he eventually wants to do is implement technology in the school.
"Kids these days always have a tablet or something in their hands," he said. "My goal for this school would be to get students an iPad or some kind of technology device for them to use in the classroom. You know they will be involved with the lesson and they will be actively listening and excited to participate."
Both new administrators say their main focus will be on student achievement.
"For me, my 100 percent focus as long as I'm here is going to be what is best for our kids," Etheridge said. "That is what matters to me."