SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The first day of school for kids in the Sioux Falls School District is just seven weeks away, and it will also be the first day for new Lincoln High School Principal Laura Raeder. Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Brian Maher highlights one word in particular when talking about Raeder.
“Above all else, Laura’s great at relationships,” Maher said. “So I think with students, with staff, with parents, with the community at large, I think she’ll be a real nice face of Lincoln High School.”
Shortly after that conversation with Maher, KELOLAND News asked Raeder about her relationship skills.
“It’s something that I work hard at, and I’ll continue to,” Raeder said.
When KELOLAND News visited with her on Monday, it was her very first day as principal at Lincoln.
“It’s so exciting,” Raeder said. “It’s been so fun to get to know the people, to move into a new place, just really trying to learn names and to meet people.”
She faces a unique situation when classes begin in seven weeks.
“In one respect, it’s a little scary in that I’m walking into a school, everyone knows who I am, and I know just a handful of people here, so I’m going to have to work really hard to formulate those relationships with the teachers and the students and the staff,” Raeder said.
Raeder grew up near Watertown and holds a doctorate from the University of South Dakota.
“I think Laura has all the skills that you need to be successful as a high school principal,” Maher said. “That’s first and foremost. And you couple that with Laura has done a lot of things from being a debate coach, so she’s been on the coach side of things, she’s been a classroom teacher, she’s been in the curriculum side of what we do at the central office, and she’s been an assistant principal at the largest high school in the state.”
The largest is Roosevelt, just across town. Lincoln is the second-biggest.
“When you talk about diversity at Lincoln High School, you talk about socioeconomic diversity, you talk about racial and ethnic diversity, and you talk about the diversity that you see in our city, you see that at Lincoln High School,” Maher said.
“What I really try to do to prepare myself for, to be the principal of Lincoln, is to review what’s been happening at Lincoln,” Raeder said. “Not only on paper, what Lincoln has done and what it continues to be and represent for the Sioux Falls School District, but also think about where we want to go in the future.”
That work has already started.
“I attended a conference in Washington D.C. last week with some Lincoln teachers, so we were able to have a conversation about where Lincoln is and where we need to be,” Raeder said.
Before too long, these halls will fill back up.
“We’re really trying to make Lincoln as welcoming as possible for the students and the teachers when it comes to that first day of school,” Raeder said. “We have Patriot Power Day, which is the very first day that students can come and get their pictures taken, get their schedules, buy their passes for parking.”
Asked if she’ll be involved with the debate team given her debate past, she leaves the door open to possibility.
“The debate coach and I have had a conversation- I’ll leave it at that,” Raeder said with a laugh.
A young person’s high school experience is defined by many influencers: maybe a principal, but certainly others, too.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting and being a part of the team that helps their child through their high school years, being the support that they need, to continue that excellence at Lincoln, whether it’s in the fine arts, the academics, the athletics,” Raeder said. “We’re ready.”