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When the Princeton School Board announced several months ago that it selected Barb Muckenhirn as the new principal at the high school, many in Princeton were already familiar with her in the district.

Muckenhirn was the district’s director of teaching and learning for three years up until the spring of 2011. Then she took a job as director of 21st Century Teaching & Learning in the Little Falls School District for a year.

Muckenhirn has been in leadership positions in school districts for almost 20 years. She said she can now apply all of what she has gained from those experiences into the principal job here. Education at the high school level is the most complex because of all the schedule and rule requirements from the state, she added.

Muckenhirn, before the 2013-14 school year began, said her experience at Little Falls was “outstanding,” but she has been looking forward to her new principal job at Princeton.

“It’s a great opportunity to return, to come back and be welcomed,” she said. “It’s heartwarming.”

Muckenhirn grew up in West Hope, N.D., and graduated in a class of 23 students. She said she chose a career in education because she loved school and was successful in it. The only other pursuit she said she had thought of was the military.

Her career began with teaching sixth grade for 14 years in Bottineau, N.D., 32 miles east of her hometown.

Ready for the year ahead 

She reviewed some of the maintenance work that had gone on at the school over the summer. That included redoing floors in the third station gym, removing asbestos from the industrial and technology area, preparing a portable unit for the district’s transition program that teaches life skills, completing the last phase of replacing old lockers, adding security cameras and more.

Days before the new school year began, Muckenhirn was asked about the challenge of teaching subjects such as math.

Education involves a lot more than just teaching the subject, as it also means giving the student positive support to make them feel like they belong in the school, she said. That’s part of the school district’s Tiger Pride theme, she added.

Reflecting on her new principal job, she said: “It’s the most fun I ever had. I feel more connected with the students. I’m hanging with kids more. It’s fun. It’s a blast.”