For Immediate Release: May 8, 2014

Contact: Rachel Strauch-Nelson (608) 663-1903

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) today announced several new principals to fill openings in the district.

“We know our vision as a district doesn't come to life without dynamic leaders in every school,” Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said. “We couldn't be more excited to welcome these outstanding principals to our leadership team.”

This year, the district launched a more rigorous selection process based on an external review of the district’s recruitment, hiring and induction processes. To become school leaders, candidates were asked to demonstrate through a multi-phased process whether they have the competencies, or key skills, that Madison principals need to be successful. After making it through the screening process, candidates met with community panels to help determine the best fit for each school.

New principals will also be part of the district’s new Forward Madison partnership with the UW-Madison School of Education to provide support to new teachers and principals.

Pending Board approval, all candidates will start on July 1. The district expects to announce additional hires by early June.

Sarah Larson, Elvehjem Elementary School

Sarah Larson has more than 10 years of experience in the field of education. Since 2012, Sarah has served as a literacy instructional resource teacher with MMSD. Sarah previously served as reading specialist and literacy coach in the School District of Beloit and as a classroom teacher in the Beloit, Janesville and Verona School Districts. Sarah holds an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an educational specialist degree as a reading specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a focus in ESL/bilingual teaching from Edgewood College.

Grace Okoli, Falk Elementary School

Since 2013, Grace Okoli has served as assistant principal at Stephens Elementary School in MMSD. Previously, she served as principal of Royce Elementary in the School District of Beloit, partnership principal in the Sun Prairie Area School District and associate high school principal in the School District of McFarland.  Grace holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Edgewood College, a master’s degree in teacher education from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Benin, Nigeria.

Becky Kundert, Orchard Ridge Elementary School

Becky has worked in MMSD since 2001. She has served as an assistant principal for the past two years at Chavez Elementary School. Previously, Becky served as a Positive Behavior Coach at the district level supporting elementary and middle schools for two years and a Positive Behavior Coach at Sherman Middle School for three years. Becky team taught for six years at Sherman Middle School as a cross categorical special education teacher. She holds a master's degree in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University and a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Tony Dugas, O’Keeffe Middle School

Tony Dugas has worked in education for 18 years.  Since 2009, Tony has served as principal of Northside Elementary School for the Sun Prairie Area School District. Tony has also worked as director of Eighth Grade Academy for Citizen Schools in Boston, MA and assistant principal of Maya Angelou Public Charter School (MAPCS) in Washington, D.C. Tony previously served as a teacher at MAPCS and at Prescott Middle School in the East Baton Rouge School System. Tony began his career as the city wide director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge.  He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Southern University and A&M College.

Jay Affeldt, Memorial High School

A graduate of Memorial High School, Jay Affeldt has been in the field of education for more than 15 years and part of Memorial High School staff since 1999, most recently serving as assistant principal. Jay previously served as interim coordinator for secondary education information, school improvement coordinator and science teacher in MMSD. Jay began his career as a high school and middle school science teacher in the Florence-Carlton Schools in Florence, MT.  Jay holds master’s degrees in educational leadership and educational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.