by Cori Hilsgen
A familiar face greeted students and staff at Kennedy Community School when Anna Willhite, principal, welcomed everyone for the 2019-20 school year.
Willhite was previously an assistant principal at the school for three-and-a-half years, working with Laurie Putnam as principal. Effective in July, Putnam is now the assistant superintendent for secondary education for the St. Cloud school district.
This will be Willhite’s fourth year at Kennedy. She began her career as a teacher at the Alternative Learning Center for a couple of years and then spent about six years at South Junior High School. She also spent the last four months of the 2018-2019 school year as assistant principal at North Junior High School, during which time Todd Van Erp was the temporary assistant principal at Kennedy Community School.
Willhite and assistant principal Richmond Tweh’s positions officially began in July, and they collaborated with Putnam on all of the planning pieces for the upcoming school year.
“Kennedy is truly my second home,” Willhite said. “I love all of our students, staff and families that I have the honor of working with. Our pre-K through eighth-grade environment provides students with a variety of opportunities and leadership experiences.”
Tweh came to St. Cloud as an administrative intern and said he “got an understanding of staffing, budgeting and classroom supervision.” He was previously an administrative intern at North Junior High School for three years.
“The staff at Kennedy has been welcoming and very helpful with my transition to a new school and role,” he said.
Willhite grew up north of the metro area and moved to Central Minnesota to attend the College of St. Benedict.
“I fell in love with the area and the St. Cloud school district and knew this is where I wanted to be,” she said. “I have worked for the district since 2008 as a coach, teacher, academic coach, administrative intern, assistant principal and now principal.”
Willhite has lived in the area since attending the College of St. Benedict. She is married and has three children and two dogs.
“When I am not working, I love spending time with my family, coaching my children’s sports and going on adventures,” she said.
Tweh graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with his bachelor’s degree and later attended St. Mary’s University for his master’s degree in educational leadership, as well as his K-12 licensure.
He began his educational career at Elizabeth Hall Elementary in Minneapolis, working in various roles for a year.
“When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my wife of five years and my 16- month-old daughter,” Tweh said. “My hobbies include playing and watching sports (football and basketball), reading and listening to podcasts on various topics.”
Willhite said this school year’s enrollment is around 820 students from kindergarten through eighth-grade. About 105 employees work in the building
“We have a collaborative community where we all work together to educate, inspire and empower our students to reach their highest potential,” Willhite said of Kennedy staff.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.