Three principals leaving District 622 this spring

As incoming Harmony kindergarten principal, here in 1992, Carol Erickson moved in as a new addition was being built. (file photo)

L to R: Christina Hester, Carol Erickson and Judy Jemtrud.

Weaver’s Judy Jemtrud & Skyview’s Carol Erickson retiring after long tenures

The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District will soon bid farewell to three administrators -- two of whom have worked in the district since the 1990s.

The school board recently accepted the resignations of Weaver Elementary School principal Judy Jemtrud, Skyview Elementary School principal Carol Erickson and Skyview Middle School principal Christina Hester.

Jemtrud and Erickson are retiring after 16 and 21 years in the district, respectively, and Hester will be leaving after three years at Skyview to become principal of Robbinsdale Cooper High School.

The principals’ contracts run through the end of June, so their replacements will start July 1, said District 622 Superintendent Patty Phillips.

Leaving legacies

Jemtrud, who has served as principal of Weaver Elementary School in Maplewood since 2002, is known for building strong relationships with students, their families and Weaver faculty, Phillips said.

“This is a real grieving process for the staff at Weaver,” Phillips said of Jemtrud’s departure. “Judy lives and breathes her work.”

Jemtrud said during her time at Weaver she has worked hard to make the school a welcoming place for families to bring their children, adding that the school’s teachers are dedicated to their students.

“We have wonderful families, wonderful diversity,” Jemtrud said. “I’m really proud of building a culture in this building where we all support one another and work as a team to help students achieve to the best of their ability.”

Before coming to District 622 in 1997, Jemtrud worked as a teacher, curriculum specialist and assistant principal at schools in Bismarck and Williston, N.D., and in St. Paul. In addition to serving as principal of Weaver Elementary for the past 11 years, Jemtrud was the principal of Beaver Lake Elementary until the school closed for budgetary reasons in 2002.

Of her education career and time at Weaver Elementary, Jemtrud said, “I have enjoyed every moment.”

Jemtrud, who lives in Vadnais Heights, said during her retirement she plans to join her daughter in local volunteer activities, travel and spend more time with her family.

Erickson was there from the start

Erickson, who will also be retiring after this school year, said she too is looking forward to spending more time with her family, and that she plans to make more time for travel and pastimes such as reading and exercising.

Erickson’s history with Skyview Elementary in Oakdale stretches back to even before the school was built -- when “it was literally a cornfield,” she said with a chuckle. Erickson served on the planning and design team for the school and has been the principal of Skyview Elementary since it opened in the fall of 1996.

She began working for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District when the district opened a kindergarten at Harmony School in 1992. Erickson served as principal there until making the transition to Skyview four years later.

Before coming to District 622, Erickson worked as a school psychologist and principal at schools in Amery, Wis., and Taylor Falls, Minn.

Erickson, who lives in Forest Lake, said though she’s looking forward to retirement, she’s going to miss coming to Skyview every day.

“Being in an elementary school is so fun,” Erickson explained. “You walk down the halls in the morning and get hugs from all these little guys so excited to be at school.”

Erickson said she will miss the relationships she has built with students, their families and her staff most of all.

“I’m going to miss a lot of things about this place,” she said.

Phillips noted that Erickson has always been focused on continuous improvement of student achievement, and that parents who’ve heard about her departure have said great things about her influence on their children.

“Their eyes lit up when they told me about the positive impact she’d had on their kids’ lives,” Phillips said, adding that she has heard many similar comments about Jemtrud.

Skyview Middle School will also be missing a well-respected leader in Hester, who has served as principal of Skyview Middle School for the past three years.

Hester “going back home”

Hester, who previously served as assistant principal at Robbinsdale Cooper, is returning to the high school to serve as head principal next year.

“In a way, she’s going back home,” Phillips said. “We’re going to really miss her. She brought a fresh and unique perspective to our district.”

Phillips said Hester has been a strong advocate for her students and has worked diligently to ensure Skyview Middle School offers a “family atmosphere.” Phillips added that Hester’s experience as a college basketball coach was valuable.

“Principals have to be coaches in so many ways,” Phillips said. “She’s a very reflective leader.”

Keeping the tradition

Phillips said the district has received 166 applications for the elementary school positions and about 100 applications for the middle school job.

She added that though it’s going to be difficult to replace such outstanding administrators, many qualified candidates have applied.

“The pool is rich,” she said. “We’re optimistic that we’re going to find some exemplary leaders.”

Phillips said she’s unsure of how long the process will take to choose the new hires, and that the search process will be extensive and thorough.

“We want to pick stellar leaders so we can continue this tradition of having a fabulous team of administrators,” Phillips said.

Alex Holmquist can be reached at or 651-748-7822.

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