First-year Conant Principal, Julie Nowak, adjusting well to new role
Julie Nowak, Conant High School’s new principal, said she has been adjusting very well to what the school has offered her in the past few months of the new year.
She said her main goal was to become more a part of the community and provide as much support as she can. Getting to know the students and staff in the beginning, she explained, was crucial, as she is the head of the entire school and operations. Conant provided her with a plethora of opportunities to do so.
Nowak explained that nothing has astounded her more than the acceptance and warm welcomes she has received in her adjustment at the high school.
“It has been amazing, I’m so impressed with the student body, the quality of the students’ character, and the level of involvement shown here,” she said.
The Months Leading Up
Before she officially began to work as a principal at Conant, Nowak said there was a lot to get used to before applying that goal to her work.
She spent all the final months of the last year to visit Conant several times a week and get familiar with her surroundings.
The hardest part, she explained, was learning staff names. She makes sure she knows everyone in the building, and if she needs a refresher, she uses her yearbook to remember.
Assistant Principal and Activities Director Robert Small explained his outlook on Nowak’s last couple of weeks: “Mrs. Nowak is listening, working hard, and giving a lot of effort into getting to know everybody. She cares a lot about the students and has already been a great contribution to Conant.”
Nowak’s secretary Julie Harden, who is also a new addition to Conant, said that the staff is friendly and made the transition terrific for both her and the principal.
Harden, with her previous experience in D211 Human Resources, has the task of making sure every classroom with an absent teacher has a substitute, handling phone calls and schedulings for Nowak, and solving problems for students, parents, and staff.
Goals for the Year Ahead
Even with such a time-consuming job, Nowak’s goal is to be involved in students’ curricular and extracurricular activities. “I am very student-centered. I love meeting with them, and I want to work with everyone,” she said.
She explained that she plans on at least visiting one meet, game, or event in every sport this year.
Just as Nowak is getting used to the flow of things around Conant, she is also adjusting to the full-on implementation of iPads. Students use education apps and take their notes on their iPads, submit assignments onto Schoology or Turnitin.com, and communicate with classmates and teachers more often.
The resources provided to students to assist in their education is tremendous, and it’s still a learning process.
Nowak’s role is to make sure that students and teachers have the resources needed to apply the technology and resources into their classrooms.
She said, “Something like the use of the iPads could take some time getting used to, but the outlook is very positive. Students treat their iPads as a very resourceful tool to use in education, and that’s where it’s the most important.”
Along with the iPads, Nowak continues to get familiar with Conant and collaborate with Small on the many things needed to run a high school: staff developments, visions for future success, and overall achievement of students.
From the Ad Building to Conant
Nowak was in the high school setting for sixteen years; however, she was at the administration center for seven, where she didn’t see much of other schools in the district.
She said, “That was something I missed. The interaction with the students and the energy of all the clubs and activities.”
Nowak said that her plan is to be at Conant for the rest of her career and that she truly looks forward to sharing memories with students, staff, and colleagues.
Nowak said she couldn’t have accomplished so much already if it weren’t for her family, who she said were her best supporters. She also said she couldn’t be more fortunate with the people she is surrounded with, especially Tim Cannon, Conant’s retiring principal, whom she considers a mentor.
Now that she is here, in a position that takes into account of all the things she enjoys, she has never been more excited for the future and her first year at James B. Conant.