Julie Kozel welcomed elementary students back to classes Wednesday as a new principal in the Orcutt Union School District — the same school system she grew up in.
So when the new principal at Joe Nightingale Elementary tries to relate to her students, she knows what she’s talking about.
The Orcutt native greeted more than 750 students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade at Joe Nightingale on Wednesday morning as fall classes kicked off for nine elementary and junior high schools in the Orcutt district.
Students toting colorful new backpacks, back-to-school wardrobes and classroom supplies returned Kozel’s greeting.
The new principal may not have attended Joe Nightingale, but Kozel has become familiar with the campus, where she served as vice principal for the past two years.
“I am very excited to be principal at Joe Nightingale,” she told Noozhawk. “It is a wonderful school with a terrific staff that is truly a team.”
Kozel takes over the principal role from Don Nicholson, who left the school to become the district’s new assistant superintendent of human resources.
Kozel said this past week has been a whirlwind of administrators and office staff welcoming new students and preparing classes for the school year.
In kindergarten alone, Joe Nightingale has 78 new students, as well as 74 transitional kindergarten students.
“Teachers have been working in classrooms to prepare the environments and with grade level teams to plan instruction and activities for students,” Kozel said. “Each and every staff member at Joe Nightingale works diligently every day to help kids learn. It is an honor to work with such a great group of educators and fantastic families.”