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Laura Love is new HHS principal

Laura Love is the new principal of Hudson High School. She is taking the summer to get acquainted with her administrators and staff. Prior to taking her new post she was the principal of Lodi High School for eight years. Photo by Meg Heaton

Laura Love sat in her office at Hudson High School recently getting a feel for her job as the school's new principal.

Love replaces Ed Lucas who retired at the end of June. Prior to accepting her new job, she was the principal of Lodi High School, a school of about 540 students in southeastern Wisconsin for eight years and served as an associate principal at Verona High which is similar in size to HHS.

Love and Lucas worked together as members of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and the High School Commission and she was familiar with Hudson as a result.

"He always had interesting things to say about Hudson and so when I saw the position was open, I wanted to investigate it."

Love said she visited Hudson on her own prior to being interviewed to get a feel for the community and talked to people about Hudson and the schools. "I got a lot of positive responses from people who had kids in school, some whose kids had graduated, some who didn't have kids. Most seemed to like where the district was headed."

Love said she had plenty of questions as she went through the interview process which included meetings with district administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members. She liked the answers she got and obviously impressed those who interviewed her.

"I really got a feel for the district's vision, what they were looking for in a leader and where the school was headed. After meeting with them, I felt like I understood what was important to them and believed the job would be a good fit for me and them."

Love acknowledges that she is coming from a smaller school but said she is energized by the challenges that presents. She also points out that she spent numerous years before Lodi at Verona High School which is closer to HHS in enrollment.

With Hudson more than three times the size of Lodi, Love said her only concern is whether she will be able to make a personal connection with the students and staff. "It is bound to be tougher in a bigger school but no matter what the size, it's like a big family. It will take some doing but it is important to be connected."

Love has already gained a reputation as being good at remembering names. She has been at work on the staff and the senior class and will work backwards from there.

She said her role as principal will be different at a larger school than it was at Lodi where she worked directly with teachers and students. At HHS she expects to spread the leadership of the school across her leadership team and the staff who will then spread that to students.

Among her first priorities will be to replace associate principal Denny Toll who resigned last month after 15 years in the position. Love said the district plans to hire a Dean of Students. "That position will be more focused on student management including attendance and discipline and school climate."

Love praised Toll for his service to the school in a recent letter to students and parents and said that his replacement would likely be on staff by the start of school.

The new principal said the school's size -- both in enrollment and physical layout -- presents a challenge but she said there are other issues just as important. "While we have to address space for learning, we also have to think about educating our students for the 21st century and what that high school should look like," said Love. "We can't continue teaching in an industrial model. We have to provide students with the skills they need in they need five, 10, 20 years from now."

She said she expects to be involved in the committee of administrators and teachers who are looking at high schools across the country to get ideas for the future of HHS.

Love said she will be observing how the space issue affects learning in the school. She said some classes will have between 30-33 students in them and that some classrooms just don't have enough space for the desks needed. She pointed out that enrollment will be up with an incoming freshman class of 450, 25 more students than graduated this year.

Like her predecessor, Love said she is a big believer in community partnerships and involving as many adults from the community as possible in her school.

"There is a great richness of resources in this community and I plan on taking the time to get to know as much as I can about them. The more people we bring into the building, the better it is for our students."

At Lodi, Love said she made a point of bringing in successful community members from all walks of life as a way to inspire students. "It really impacts students to see that successful people in their hometown started out just like them and went on to do incredible things."

She said she also plans on inviting students and parents to be part of the Principal's Advisory Council that will meet monthly to address issues of concern at the school.

Love attended UW-Madison and holds a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology and sports medicine, a teaching degree in broad field science and a master's degree in education administration.

Love and her husband have two daughters, the youngest begins college this fall. They have bought a newer home in North Hudson which will be a big change from their Lodi "farmette" with lots of animals. Love is one of ten children born in Sleepy Hollow, Ill., and raised in Walworth. She said one of the benefits of moving to Hudson is that she will be closer to one of her sisters who lives in the Twin Cities.

Love can be contacted at her office at (715) 377-3800 or via e-mail at lovelh@staff.hudson.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604