New Richmond school board

New Richmond High School junior, Samantha Gibson, accompanied by her Creative Writing teacher Deena Zauft, was celebrated by members of the School Board for publication of her first novel, Hostage. (L-R) Neal Melby, Deena Zauft, Kent Elkin, Samantha Gibson, Greg Gartner, Paula Kolbeck, Tim Kufus. 

 Human Resources Director Holly Butler announced the School District of New Richmond has hired New Richmond native Nichole Benson to be the new principal at the high school replacing Tom Wissink who resigned to take over as district administrator for the School District of Campbellsport.

Benson, a graduate of New Richmond High School, earned her BA in education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, her master’s degree in professional development from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and completed her principal and director of instruction licensure program from Concordia University.

Benson started her career in education as an English teacher in both the Amery and Hudson school districts before becoming an instructional coach and curriculum specialist in the Hudson district. She moved on to become the director of teaching and learning for the Prescott School District before accepting a position as associate principal at Hudson High School where she has served for the last six years.

Benson and her husband, Jay, have a daughter, Kendra, who is studying to become a nurse.   

“During the interview process, the pride students and staff have in this school was evident, and having graduated from New Richmond myself, I know what a great community this is.  I can’t wait to be a part of it,” Benson said.

Benson will officially take over as principal at the high school on July 1.

Young author

District Superintendent Patrick Olson smiled from ear to ear as he introduced Samantha Gibson to the board. 

“It is my absolute pleasure to introduce to the board Samanth Gibson. Samantha is a junior at New Richmond High School. This is a first in my career of over 21 years. Samantha is the very accomplished writer and author of ‘Hostage,’” Olson said.

Gibson, accompanied by creative writing instructor Deena Zauft, shared a little bit about the writing of her first novel, “Hostage.”

“Hostage is a story about Stockholm syndrome. That is where somebody is kidnapped or taken hostage, and they either feel affection or fall in love or trust their captor. I started writing “Hostage” my freshman year only because I was bored in class, no offense, but I never intended it to be a book or finish it. I was just writing it because I thought the idea was cool. I didn’t even know that the idea (Stockholm Syndrome) was a real thing,” Gibson said.

Gibson recognized Zauft not only for her mentorship during the writing process but for her accessibility and support as a friend and confidant. 

“She’s an awesome teacher … She’s super supportive. I connected with her, and I feel like she’s the type of person I can actually tell personal things too as well. Not only was she there for me not only mentally, she was there to help me with my book,’ Gibson said. 

Gibson published “Hostage” last February with Sigma’s Bookshelf, a publishing company dedicated to publishing young authors between the ages of 12-19. 

Quick Hits

  • Board members approved a rate increase for the district’s self-administered dental plan to coincide with increasing the annual maximum from $1,000 to $1,500. Beginning in July 2022, the monthly rate for an employee will increase from $49.51 per month  to $60 per month. The rate for a family will increase from $124.74 per month to $153.97 a month.

  • Board members approved the purchase of 90 new Chromebooks, 30 for each elementary school, specifically for Tiger Pack. The new laptops will replace 90 used Chromebooks that will be retired and made available for sale at $50 a piece ($4,500 total) to Tiger Pack. The purchase price for the new Chromebooks is $31,815.

  • Board members approved the purchase of approximately 550 new Yealink phones for a total of $32,402.04 and Zoom cloud-based phone system software for $53,1120.40 per year and a one-time installation and configuration fee of approximately $21,295 to replace the existing districtwide phone system. Phones are in every classroom, conference room and prep area. The existing phones are 12 years old and no longer supported and the existing software is 6 years old and in need of updating. The new system will allow staff members to access text and chat messaging, video conferencing and voice communication through a dedicated Zoom telephone number without providing personal cell phone information. All communications will be automatically archived in the new system. The new system will allow staff to communicate using laptops, headsets and cell phones. Staff will have the option to use or not use the new software.

  • Board members approved a plan proposed by the School Nutrition Department. to provide two no charge meals daily, breakfast and lunch, throughout summer school to encourage students to eat a healthy breakfast to promote academic success.

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