Longtime Northfield High School Principal Joel Leer will be on an unpaid leave of absence this fall as he travels the world with his family.
In his place, Northfielder and longtime school administrator Laura Kay Allen will assume his position until he returns after winter break.
Leer, who has been with the district for 13 years, is joining his wife, St. Olaf College professor of education Elizabeth Leer, as they travel the globe as part of Global Semesters, a program that allows students to travel abroad.
They will start in Paris, France, before spending one week in Egypt and then one month in Tanzania. They then will spend one week in India, one month in China and one month in Argentina before returning in late December.
Joel will not teach on the trip. He will homeschool the couple’s younger children while Elizabeth is in charge of the academic side.
“I tell people that it was incredibly difficult to say yes,” he said of his decision to take the leave of absence. “And the only thing that made me say yes is that it would have been equally hard to say ‘no’.”
Allen, a 1975 Northfield High School graduate, was a Northfield school administrator from 1987 to 1997. She spent 17 years as assistant Apple Valley High School principal and administrator.
“It’s certainly a way to give back to the school and most importantly the kids,” she said of her decision to take the interim position. “I know that we’re in a good place here, so I’ll have a hard job to do, but there are a lot of people that will help me be successful. And when you can help kids, that’s what it’s all about.”
Allen, who retired in 2014, has had long-term administrative jobs every year since and has been a substitute teacher
She said her guiding principles as an educator revolve around those she serves.
“I am certainly approachable,” she said Thursday in an email. I love interacting with kids. I want to make sure that I give the teachers the tools that they need to be successful in the classroom. When teachers are successful in the classroom, then optimal student learning can happen.”