SE teacher takes over as new high school principal


Long-time Sibley East social studies teacher Jim Amsden assumed duties as Sibley East’s High School principal July 1.

Amsden succeeds Jim Swanson, who retired June 30 after 38 years in the education field, the past 19 years as Sibley East’s principal.

“It’s great,” Amsden commented, about being hired as the principal for the school district where he has taught for 21 years. “I’m very happy because it’s a place I know the students and staff. I hope to continue some of the good things Jim [Swanson] and the staff have built.”

He also noted that it is “like starting over again, developing ideas from a new perspective. It is good for professional renewal.”

In the transition from teacher to principal, Amsden said that he is “still eager to come to work.”

Amsden, who lives in St. Peter, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1986, where he majored in social studies education and sociology anthropology, and minored in history. He earned a Master of Science degree in curriculum and instruction from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 1992.

In addition, Amsden has completed 30 quarter credits of post Master’ degree work from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth from 1995-97, and will complete his educational administration K-12 certificate in December 2008 from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Amsden has been doing work for Sibley East as part of his administrative internship since February.

Since Amsden’s hiring last month, he has been working with Swanson, going through files.

“Early on, especially my first year, my goals are to be visible and be student-centered,” Amsden said. He also plans on evaluating programs Sibley East currently has in place.

“The first year will be a lot of learning and taking in information,” he admitted. Amsden knows that he will be spending a lot of time in the classrooms and hallways. “I get my energy from kids,” he said. “I have loved being in the classroom, but feel I can still be involved in the bigger school climate.”

Amsden believes it will be a smooth transition for him to be principal for his former teaching peers. He believes that he has always had a professional relationship with other staff when he served in various leadership positions for the Sibley East Education Association and as department chairperson.