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Intermediate School Principal Heather Mleziva appreciative of warm welcome she has received at Luxemburg-Casco
As the 2023 calendar year comes to an end and students approach the halfway mark in the school year, new Luxemburg-Casco Intermediate School Principal Heather Mleziva is appreciative of the warm welcome she has received in her first six months in the position.

“I love the job! It’s been going well,” says Mleziva. “There are challenging days, but also very rewarding and good days. The rewarding and good days always outweigh the challenging ones.”

She began her position this past July, replacing Jolene Hussong, who retired.
Mleziva shares that the grade-level span in the Intermediate School keeps her on her toes, but in a good way. Each day with students across Grades 3-6 leads to laughter, questions and opportunities to learn. Students particularly like to comment on her height, 6-foot, saying, “Gosh, you’re so tall,” even four months into the school year, Mleziva laughing as she tells the story.

The Intermediate School teaching staff, many of which are long-time educators, have also welcomed Mleziva.

“The staff are incredible in this building,” says Mleziva. “They are very helpful – checking in on everyone, including myself. It’s also a group that isn’t afraid of challenges or taking initiative.”

Mleziva has introduced a handful of new initiatives in her short time within the district.

One initiative is the WHOA board, which is displayed prominently right outside her office door. It is designed to encourage students to “act in safe, respectful and responsible ways.” When one of those good behaviors are noticed by Mleziva or a teacher, the student is given a ticket for a chance at an incentive.

“My goal is to encourage positive behavior across the building,” says Mleziva. “I also want to eliminate the stigma that my office is only for disciplinary action.”

To date, there have been three ice cream and popsicle parties in Mleziva’s office for students who have been WHOA board winners. The WHOA board has been helping to eliminate that stigma, according to Mleziva.

She also has been part of the implementation of Tier 2 behavioral supports with the goal being to meet more students’ needs around behavior, along with social and emotional needs.

On the administrative side, Mleziva has introduced CPT, short for Collaborative Planning Time. This was a method of internal communication that she learned while in the Denmark (Wis.) School District. Each grade level provides its accomplishments for the week, any challenges or questions they have for Mleziva, as well as academic content covered throughout the week for each class.

CPT reports are shared with the entire Intermediate School building for all personnel to view. Each report also mentions upcoming and
future events that all teaching staff should be aware of.

“The biggest benefit is that it keeps everyone in the know,” says Mleziva, “and it is very helpful to the related arts staff in connecting core content with the related arts curriculum. I also provide a follow-up email each week on any questions or challenges posed.”

She believes her recent classroom experience – the past six years as an eighth-grade special education teacher at Denmark Middle School – is an asset, feeling that she understands the needs of a teacher and what their struggles are.

Mleziva believes her staff knows that she has their back and will support them through thick and thin. “I try to take as much off their plates as possible when I am available,” she says.

She strives to get out of her office and into the classroom, or be present in the hallways, cafeteria and outside at recess, to the greatest extent possible.

“I want the students and staff to see me and be comfortable with my presence in any setting,” says Mleziva. “Being present and having an open-door policy for students and staff has allowed strong relationships to form.”

In addition, she believes that she leads with transparency, which has helped to establish trust. “By being transparent, I feel I have opened many doors for good and honest conversations with my students and staff,” Mleziva says. In return, she believes that those stakeholders have returned the transparency.

Over the past four months since classes began Mleziva has learned many things about L-C students.

“One of the most notable things I have noticed about our students is that they really understand the content and instruction in the classroom, and that the students elevate their learning by asking higher-order questions,” Mleziva says. “They are very engaged.”
Mleziva cites the four pillars of her educational approach – relationships, a sense of belonging, knowledge, and purpose – as a guiding force in her everyday work.

“Having students feel safe and cared for is my philosophy, and I feel like we have established that,” she says. “Students know that I’m going to take care of them.”
At the same time, Mleziva recognizes the significance of working hand in hand with the parents of students.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important a partnership is between school and home,” says Mleziva. “Partnership – and open communication – is critical to our collective success. Being able to work together creates the best opportunities for students.”

Providing the highest level of opportunity for its students – in all grades – is a cornerstone of the Luxemburg-Casco School District’s mission.