Tavan, Mountainside principals named for next school year

Julie Ballard will be the new principal at Tavan Elementary School (Photo by SUSD)

New principals have been appointed to lead Scottsdale Unified School District’s Tavan Elementary School and Mountainside Middle School.

Tavan Assistant Principal Julie Ballard will take over from longtime Principal Margaret Serna, who moves to the administration side of SUSD as executive director of Title 1 Schools.

Ms. Ballard has served as Tavan’s AP for the past five years and has been a member of the Tavan community since 2001, starting as a special education teacher, according to a press release.

She co-chairs Tavan’s Intervention Planning Team, serves as leader of the multi-disciplinary team and is a member of the school’s literacy team and teaching and learning/leadership committee.

Ms. Ballard calls the opportunity to lead Tavan an honor.

“If we work to ‘do whatever it takes’ to develop kind, self-confident and growth-minded scholars who are able to see greatness in others and themselves, we have not only done our job, but also made the world an even greater place,” she said in a prepared statement.

The new principal says her predecessor, Ms. Serna, has been a great mentor, preparing her well for her new post.

“Margaret has shown me that great school leadership requires the ability to build respectful relationships by listening, understanding and acknowledging others’ input,” Ms. Ballard said.

Ms. Ballard received both her B.A. in Education and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

Tavan, part of the Arcadia Learning Community and located at 4610 E. Osborn Road, in Phoenix, is a Pre-K–5th grade, Title 1 school with approximately 660 students.

Adam Kohnen (Photo by SUSD)

Seventeen miles to the northeast, Adam Kohnen will be the new principal of Mountainside Middle School, located at 11256 N. 128th St., Scottsdale. He takes over from retiring Principal Terri Kellen, who has led the 575-student institution for the past seven years.

Mr. Kohnen comes most recently from an assistant principal’s post at SUSD’s Chaparral High School, which he has held for the past two school years. Previously, he taught history at Desert Mountain High School and was part of the school’s pre-diploma international baccalaureate program teaching staff.

Mountainside is currently an IB Middle Years Programme Candidate School. Mr. Kohnen holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Arizona State University.

“Professionally, I was born and raised with Scottsdale Unified School District, and I am thrilled to now be a part of the Cougar Nation in the Desert Mountain Learning Community,” Mr. Kohnen said in a prepared statement.

Although he has enjoyed his time at Chaparral, Mr. Kohnen shares that he is eager to serve SUSD in a new capacity.

“I am excited to connect again with the community where my career began,” he said.

Parents, the community and staff at both Mountainside and Tavan provided input into their respective new principal’s selection, says SUSD Superintendent Dr. John Kriekard, and were selected from a pool of high-quality candidates.

Dr. Kriekard says he could not be more pleased with the Ballard and Kohnen appointments.

“It is especially gratifying when we have quality candidates from within our own district who have grown in their previous posts to become our next leaders,” Dr. Kriekard said.

Ms. Ballard and Mr. Kohnen join Amy Palatucci and Todd Dreifort, who were both recently affirmed as the principals at Coronado and Chaparral high schools, respectively, with the same community-driven process. Both served their schools as interim principals during the 2018-19 school year.

All four principals officially start their new SUSD roles on July 1.

For the latest news and information on all SUSD schools and programs, visit susd.org.

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