GIPS names new principal for Starr Elementary

Starr Elementary School
Starr Elementary School(GIPS)
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 10:38 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools announced that Selena Wardyn is the new principal for Starr Elementary beginning in June of this year.

Wardyn has served Grand Island Public Schools for 17 years, and in that time she has assumed a number of key roles such as Special Education teacher, Educational Consultant/Department Chair at GISH, Instructional Coach for Secondary Buildings, and most notably Assistant Principal at Walnut Middle School for the last seven years. She carries dual masters degrees from UNK (MSEd in Community Counseling) and Hastings College (MAT in K-12 Special Education) alongside doctoral work in educational administration from UNL.

Throughout her time with the district, Wardyn has proven herself to be a champion of learning innovation and educational leadership.

“Selena has been an impactful leader in us gaining national recognition for demonstration schools of rigor,” said Dr. Tawana Grover, the Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools. “And by Starr Elementary being a demonstration school, she will be able to continue that learning and growing. Selena has become known for her phrase, ‘Trust the process’ — and that is a great insight into her approach as an instructional leader and team builder. I’m excited to see her take on this new leadership role. Starr has a rich culture of diversity, inclusiveness, with high hopes and high beliefs in what they can accomplish together. Her energy is contagious and she has a knack for helping others achieve and exceed their goals. Selena is the right leader at the right time for this transition.  I’m grateful that she accepted this opportunity.”

Dr. Toni Palmer, GIPS Chief of Leadership and Learning, echoes those sentiments.

“We’re thrilled for Selena to step into leadership at Starr,” Palmer said. “Her middle school experience and this new proximity she will have with Barr specifically highlights why she will be a great champion to help facilitate our students making that transition from Starr to middle school. Overall, Selena has the leadership qualities that we as a district were looking for — leadership that builds a positive school culture and climate; leadership that emphasizes and prioritizes education of the whole child.  Starr is in great hands with Ms. Wardyn.”

John Hauser, the current Starr Principal, is set to pursue a new education leadership endeavor at the end of this school year with Hastings Public Schools — opening up an opportunity to step in and continue Starr’s thriving success. Though she recognized her time at Walnut has been richly rewarding, the transition to Starr was too meaningful to pass up.

“It has been a true honor to work alongside the staff and students at Walnut Middle School these past seven years.”  Wardyn shared. “We have accomplished so many great things instructionally, academically, and culturally. This will only continue to grow with the high level team of staff in place at that building. Starr Elementary School walked alongside Walnut Middle School as we transitioned into Demonstration Schools of Rigor the past few years. I had the good fortune of observing the talent of Starr Elementary Staff under the guidance of John Hauser as they also implemented new levels of rigor. I am beyond excited to be the next leader to walk alongside that talented staff at Starr Elementary School, providing opportunities for students to grow and thrive in their educational environment!”

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