New IGLLS principal hopes to continue school's growth

Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Iowa Great Lakes Lutheran School Board President Leonard Langner welcomed the new principal, Sarah Popp, to the school with a handshake Friday afternoon.
Photo by Colin Van Westen

Since Iowa Great Lakes Lutheran School changed locations four years ago, the school has experienced growth each year. IGLLS Board President Leonard Langner said the school had an enrollment of 22 students six years ago. This year, Langner expects enrollment to be between 90 and 95 students. New IGLLS Principal Sarah Popp was selected, in part, to oversee what the school hopes will be the continued growth of the student body.

"We are a nationally accredited Lutheran school now and our No. 1 criteria when we looked for a new administrator was to get one who had been Lutheran educated, trained and graduated from a Lutheran college," Langner said. "We incorporate the use of scripture and God's word in every facet of every class here."

The board also considered Popp's 27 years of teaching experience, her principal certification and a recommendation they received from one of Popp's peers when considering her candidacy.

"A year ago, I completed an online principal certification program through Lamar University and I got my principal certification in Texas," Popp said. "For the last three years, I have been teaching and working as assistant principal at Lutheran High School in San Antonio, Texas. All of that has prepared me now to be principal. ... I have taught everything from Algebra I to calculus in the high school. I taught middle school math and I have done some English, choir and a wide variety of classes. We were a small high school, so I had many hats. I taught religion classes and computer classes when I started there, too."

Popp first interviewed for the position in February, after receiving a call from Langner. She made the trip from Texas to Iowa in April between two snowstorms. The "quality educators" at the school and the "great people" she encountered on the trip helped her make the decision.

"Every student can succeed," Popp said. "I believe it is our responsibility as educators to provide the opportunities so the students can learn and grow. We need to create an environment where students feel comfortable taking risks. This gives them an opportunity to develop skills such as perseverance and tenacity, so they can learn and grow as individuals and as the children of God that God created them to be."

Langner pointed to Popp's experience with music and technology as benefits the school hopes to utilize.

"Her experience with music fits in with our culture here," Langner said. "When we watch our students during their concerts and Christmas programs, they maybe come in a little bit timid and shy as kindergarteners. By the time they are through kindergarten and first grade, we just see them blossom and grow. I think Sarah is only going to enhance that with her musical ability and we will probably see the children become more involved in the worship life of the the church as well.

He continued, "The other thing we are looking for her to help us with, last year we had a dozen kids who didn't claim a church home. We are looking for Sarah to reach out to those families to welcome them into First English and encourage them to become more active in their worship life and developing a personal relationship with Jesus."

Popp and her husband are enthusiastic about rescuing animals. She is also an avid runner and planned on participating in the Okoboji Marathon this past weekend.

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