Joelle McConnaha, a Muscatine native, felt she received many benefits from the years she spent as a student in Muscatine Community School District. To show her gratitude, she became a principal, working to give current students the same positive experiences she had. “I believed that collectively, we had such a profound ability to impact children’s educational, emotional, and social learning,” she recalls. “I was so passionate about this and knew that I could be a part of making a difference for others.” For the past sixteen years, McConnaha has lived out her dream of working as a principal, spending eleven of those years in Muscatine at Madison, Washington, and now McKinley Elementary School.
As a principal in the district she grew up in, McConnaha enjoys working with both teachers and parents to help kids succeed. “When you work with teachers and staff that are so incredibly selfless and willing to give whatever they have to help others, it is a pretty special place,” she said. “I also love McKinley because of the families and volunteers,” she added. “I have parents who are able to give their time by coming into school and helping with PTO, reading to students, and helping with the different needs we have.”
Along with helping to coordinate teacher and parent efforts, McConnaha does a lot on her own to care for her many students, from giving rides to students who need help with transportation or helping families in need pay for unexpected expenses. “I have always felt that I should give to others whenever someone has a need,” she explained.
Through all her work McConnaha hopes to strengthen and support the community that she has always called home: “I am grateful to live in Muscatine. I believe that people here really care about one another. This is shown through our people, schools, and businesses—there are so many things to be proud of.” McConnaha hopes her work spreads and encourages the kindness she sees both at McKinley and throughout the area. As a local educational leader, Muscatine appreciates everything McConnaha does for the community’s children.