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Balcom looking forward to principal role at Newell

Newell Elementary will have a familiar district face as their new principal.

Nate Balcom, the new Newell principal, has been with Grand Island Public Schools for 14 years.

“I got my first teaching job 14 years ago at Starr Elementary, and I spent the whole time at Starr,” Balcom said.

Nate Balcom

He spent eight years as a fourth grade teacher, two years as a fifth grade teacher, and four years as a computer teacher.

Balcom always loved kids, but didn’t realize his passion for education until college when his wife suggested he go into it.

“Growing up, my mother had an at-home daycare, so I spent a lot of time taking care of kids,” Balcom said. “I learned how to empathize with them and make those connections. As I was going through college, I realized that was where my strengths were at.”

Balcom said Starr Principal John Hauser and Grand Island Senior High Principal Jeff Gilbertson were helpful in giving him leadership opportunities.

“Growing up, I always took leadership roles in friend groups and that kind of thing. It’s been a natural progression,” Balcom said of taking leadership and the journey to becoming Newell’s principal.

“As I came along in my teaching career, Mr. Hauser and Mr. Gilbertson gave me opportunities to lead, being on school improvement teams and Response to Intervention (RTI) chair and Learning Sciences International (LSI) leadership team last year.”

Balcom said the more leadership opportunities he had, the more he craved.

“Those experiences helped me recognize my strengths and helped prepare me for this leadership role,” he said.

Balcom said there will be a change in going from Starr to Newell because he has to learn lots of new names. He said he’s gotten to meet many of the staff during the summer, so he was able to start building those relationships.

“It’s been a really positive experience,” Balcom said.

He said the school will have name tags for all students so he can learn everyone’s name. He said he is most looking forward to the first day of school to finally meet everyone and learn how Newell runs.

“I think it’s really important to be able to address the students individually,” Balcom said.

One of Balcom’s goals for this school year is to connect with families and think of innovative ways to get parents engaged with the school.

Balcom has never worked anywhere except GIPS during his career, and there’s a reason for that.

“The thing with GIPS is they always put the students first. Every decision made, from the bottom of the district to the top of the district,” Balcom said. “It’s always about student achievement and how to address individual student needs. Not every district is like that.”

He said GIPS is always willing to make transitions and be a leading district in the nation, all for students’ needs.

Balcom is excited to kick off the grand school year and be part of the Newell team.

“There’s a large legacy of greatness at Newell that I hope to continue moving forward,” Balcom said. “It has a rich history and a promising future.”

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