A Girard native is Westside Elementary School’s new principal. Ann Lee has been the assistant principal at Pittsburg Community Middle School since August 2009, and will begin her new duties at Westside in July.

A Girard native is Westside Elementary School’s new principal. Ann Lee has been the assistant principal at Pittsburg Community Middle School since August 2009, and will begin her new duties at Westside in July.


Lee replaces Ruth Miller, who was Westside’s principal for the past 15 years and retired at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. On Tuesday she spoke about her expectations for her new role.


Lee’s experience in teaching is extensive. She was a student teacher at Westside while she was an undergraduate student at Pittsburg State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in education. After she graduated, she spent one year with the Dadeville, Mo., public schools, followed by seven years as a fifth grade teacher and school counselor with the Joplin, Mo., school district. After her stint there, she was a counselor at George Nettels Elementary for four years before taking the assistant principal position at PCMS. During that time she earned master’s degrees in school counseling and educational leadership at Pitt State.


Lee said she admired Miller’s work as principal at Westside, and said she has big shoes to fill.


“Westside has outstanding academics,” Lee said. “We’ve performed very well. My biggest challenge will be to maintain and grow that standard of excellence. I’m looking forward to getting to know the families and working with them to meet those challenges.”


Lee said her experience at the grade school and middle school levels has prepared her for her new role.


“Kids are kids, no matter what grade they’re in,” Lee said. “But developmentally, kids in elementary school are learning how to interact with other kids and how to be students. In junior high they know what’s expected of them, and they’re starting to looking inward and learn about themselves.”


Lee said she thinks the transition will go smoothly.


“The majority of my experience is in kindergarten through fifth grade, and my goal this year is to build positive relationships with the staff and students and say ‘Here’s where we’re at, and this is where we need to be.’”


Lee said that when she started as a counselor, she thought she would stay in that position throughout her career. But then, she said, she started to want new challenges.


“I saw the influence administrators had and the positive changes they were able to make and I thought that’s something I’d like to do. I’m really looking forward to my new role.”