LAKEWOOD RANCH — Linda Nesselhauf has sat in the principal’s office at Lakewood Ranch High School more times than she could count.
The first time was at the conference table, where she dodged the end seat to get one facing the window, where she could watch students as they wandered about campus.
Now, she’s seated as the school’s new principal.
Nesselhauf, an original member of Lakewood’s administrative team and mother of two Lakewood graduates, officially started July 14. Nesselhauf returns to Lakewood after spending the last two years as an assistant principal at Manatee High.
“To be a principal at any school is an honor, but it’s different (at Lakewood) because I do have so many memories here,” Nesselhauf said. “It’s kind of been a family involvement for us from the beginning.”
Not only are Nesselhauf and her husband, James, East County residents, but her two sons and niece attended Lakewood during the eight years she served as assistant principal.
“I think she’s going to be very good for the school,” said longtime senior school secretary Sue Killian, who worked with Nesselhuaf at both Lakewood and Harllee Middle schools. “She knows the kids, the area and what the community needs.”
A third generation Floridian, Nesselhauf grew up in Lake County and graduated with a teaching degree from the University of South Florida, where her youngest son now attends.
“I never thought about doing anything else,” Nesselhauf said.
Upon graduation, she landed a student-teaching position in Manatee at Bayshore High. After her internship, Nesselhauf secured a position teaching English at Lincoln Middle School. It was the beginning of her 30-plus-year career in middle and high school education in Manatee County.
“I loved being in the classroom,” she said. “I liked what I did in the classroom. When you love what you do, it’s hard to turn it off.”
That may have been part of the reason for Nesselhauf’s transition toward administration in 1990. With a love for teaching and a natural ability to redirect difficult students, Nesselhauf was able to teach her fellow teachers how to better manage their classrooms, and she enjoyed sharing her experiences and ideas.
“One step led to another, and here I am today,” she said.
Nesselhauf said she plans to address parental concerns about bullying and drugs on campus with increased staff patrols of bathrooms and other areas and that she is checking in to potential safety improvements, including a mechanism to help ensure that doors stay closed.
Nesselhauf said she plans to meet with teachers to solicit their ideas for improving the school, and will work hard to maintain an FCAT “A” grade.
Contact Pam McTeer at email@example.com.
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