Lyndsey Linneweber takes over as principal at Columbus Signature Academy — Fodrea campus this school year, replacing Diane Clancy, who retired. Most recently, Linneweber was assistant principal at Clifty Creek Elementary. The Republic caught up with her recently to talk to about her new role.
Q: Tell me a little about the transition from Clifty to Fodrea. Was it seamless or bumpy?
A: It’s been a great transition. I think a lot of that is in part to having taught here before, so I know all about project-based learning and I knew a lot of the same staff, so that’s been great. So it’s actually been a smooth transition. I think (Diane) Clancy kind of helped set some stones out there for me to help the transitions go more smoothly, so it has been a great transition.
Q: In what ways is Fodrea different than Clifty?
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A: It’s smaller for sure. So we have less staff and teachers. So that’s an outside-the-box difference. We both do project-based learning. Here though we are wall-to-wall with project-based learning, so I think that’s a difference as well.
Q: What do you like about project-based learning?
A: I love the engagement and the community involvement. Every project has a community partner, so somebody from outside coming in to talk to the students to get them excited about the project, maybe guiding them through the project, or maybe they are just there at the end to kind of see the culminating event. But just having that community piece really engages the students so it’s not just “I’m working for my teacher” but “I’m working for this other person,” as well. And its real world, it’s authentic learning, so they see the value in what they are doing.
Q: Is project-based learning a conflict-resolution type of learning?
A: I know first grade did a project that was with the Animal Care Center, and they needed beds for dogs. So that was part of their project, making beds for dogs and delivering it, and seeing the animals and that kind of thing. I know when I was a teacher we did an art for a cause project where we partnered with United Way and we were helping them to reach their goal for their campaign. We had Columbus celebrities come in and make art with us, and we had an auction and auctioned off all of the art pieces and then the money went to United Way. Those are just a couple examples that I can pull out off the top of my head. So, some of them can be (conflict resolution), but it can be also something that is open-ended and lets the kids just kind of drive where it goes.
Q: You were among some of the first educators in Indiana to become certified in project-based education. Is this certification required now?
A: It is not required. We do have several of our facilitators that are on staff now that have gone through the process, and I think a few more will probably either go through it this year or next year, but it is not a requirement. But it is highly encouraged, and it’s a great process to really reflect on your own PBL practices.
Q: Do you personally encourage people to seek that certification?
A: Absolutely. Just for that reflective piece and to really look at how you’re doing your projects and how you can refine how you are teaching.
Q: What are some challenges you think you are going to face in your first few months or first year as principal?
A: I think right off the bat one of the challenges is going to be getting to know all of the kids. What I’m most excited for is that relationship piece and getting to know them, but it will be challenging to learn everybody’s name in the first few weeks of school.
Q: How are you going to approach getting to know the parents and students?
A: A couple weeks into school we are going to do a “Pastries with Families” in the morning. We will invite all of the families to come in and have pastries with our kiddos and do an activity, and I hope that is a good way that I can get to learn the families and students together.
Q: Since you taught at Fodrea before do you feel you already know most of the teachers?
A: We have had some new teachers, so there are some that I don’t know, but there are some that I do know wither from teaching here or having my own children go to school here.
Q: What has your focus been on since you took over?
A: Getting to know the teachers. We had our retreat … so we got to know each other and spent the whole day together just learning alongside each other.
Q: How did that go? What all did you do?
A: We met at The Commons, and we had some people come in to talk to us about the new formative assessment that we are going to be using. We also had one of our district instructional coaches come in and talk to us about pacing guides and common assessments. They had some more time with their grade-level partner to really dive in and get that work finished. And we did talk about growth mindset.
Q: What are some of your short-term goals?
A: I’ve already talked about relationships, but that is my number one short-term goal. To build that relationship with the staff and the parents. So right off the bat that is what I’ll be working on.
Q: What about long term?
A: I think the biggest long-term goal is to continue to build upon the success that Fodrea already has. To continue to grow with that and continue to expand our knowledge in project-based learning.
Q: What is it like to be a principal in the city you grew up and at a school that you taught at?
A: It is very exciting. Some of the students that I went to school with are (now) parents. So it is exciting to see how people grow and what they are doing with their lives. I just think it is exciting to be able to be here. Especially because having grown up here and having taught here, I really have that kind of bond with the community and with the school that I’m just excited to continue to be a part of.
Q: What are you most excited for this school year?
A: I think I am most looking forward to those school-wide community events that can bring in our parents and friends and families and really get to know them.
Who: Lyndsey Linneweber
What: New principal of Columbus Signature Academy — Fodrea campus
High school: Columbus North High School
College: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from St. Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute; master’s from Ball State University in education administration.
Previous teaching experience: Clifty Creek Elementary, taught first and second grade; Columbus Signature Academy – Fodrea, fourth grade; Clifty Creek, assistant principal.
Family: Husband, Ryan Linneweber; sons, Kai, 11, and Cooper, 8.
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with her children, being outside, hiking, reading, traveling.
Favorite thing about teaching: “My favorite thing about teaching has always just been that connection with students — that they would feel it was OK to come up and tell you something whether it’s a funny story or something.”