Thomas Jefferson Elementary Principal Tom Bartello is wrapping up his final year in the Newton Community School District. Starting next school year, Bartello will take the reins as principal at Lawson Elementary in Johnston.
Bartello, who started his career in Newton as a fifth-grade teacher, served as Thomas Jefferson principal for two years. The move to Johnston Community School District will allow Bartello to work much closer to home. He lives with his wife and daughter in Ankeny.
He said the most difficult part of the decision-making process was leaving behind the kids and staff he has built relationships with over the years. Leaving the community was also not an easy choice to make for the Newton High School graduate.
“I grew up here in Newton. Newton has been and always will be home for me,” Bartello said. “But one of the things I’m excited about with that is getting to take a piece of Newton with me where I go.”
The opening in Johnston presented a great opportunity for the administrator, and he couldn’t pass it up.
“I enjoy trying new things, and I enjoy new experiences,” he said. “I think I am most excited to continue serving as an administrator, but getting to experience how another district functions, what they set for priorities and goals, and how they work to meet the needs of kids and their demographics.”
Bartello said Newton has given him a great foundation to build from. He has been involved in making district-level decisions, working with parents on communication and working with Thomas Jefferson to improve student achievement. All these skills will help moving forward, as he faces new challenges.
“Johnston is a bigger school district,” he said. “I think the biggest initial challenge is going to be getting familiar with a new culture and new stakeholders and getting an idea of what are their needs, and how can I, as the building leader, come in and support those needs.”
Newton Superintendent Bob Callaghan said it’s a great move for Bartello and his family.
“He’s been a great asset to our community and schools and our students,” Callaghan said. “For him personally, this is just a great opportunity.”
NCSD is in the process of finding Bartello’s replacement. The district accepted internal applicants and applications from outside candidates. A group of committees will begin the interview process as quickly as possible.
The district’s goal, Callaghan said, is to recommend a candidate for Thomas Jefferson principal by the May 22 school board meeting, if not sooner.
Bartello said his time in Newton has been awesome. He thanked his staff and the community for their hard work. The principal said the most rewarding part of his job is at the student level, seeing kids excited about learning.
“I think it’s building those positive relationships with kids,” Bartello said. “That’s why I got into education in the first place, and it’s still by far my favorite part.”
Although his time at Thomas Jefferson is winding down, Bartello said NCSD is heading in some good directions.
“I’m excited to see where Newton goes in the future, and I do plan on continuing to check in,” he said.
Contact Justin Jagler at 641-792-3121 ext 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org