DMPS Announces 3 New Principals and 3 On the Move

This summer Des Moines Public Schools will promote three new principals and celebrate three more principals who are on the move. A total of six schools will have fresh leadership at the helm.

“At Des Moines Public Schools, we pride ourselves on having the most educational choices AND the most career opportunities of any school or district in the state,” said interim Superintendent Matt Smith. “Today, we announce three associate principals are advancing to lead their own schools, and some of our current principals are making choices that are a better fit for them personally or professionally. Come Here. Become THE BEST YOU Here. is not just a motto. We strive to live it out every single day.”

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Ben Graeber

Capitol View Elementary School welcomes Ben Graeber as the new principal for the 2023-24 school year. Graeber is in his sixth year serving as the principal at North High School. Before becoming a principal, Graeber worked for more than a decade as an English and journalism teacher at North and East High schools, and as the school improvement leader at North. Graeber is a Roosevelt High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English and literary studies from Beloit College, and holds two master’s degrees, one in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington and another in education leadership from Drake University. The district is currently searching for a new principal for North High School.

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Tiona Sandbulte

We are pleased to welcome Tiona Sandbulte as the new principal of Stowe Elementary School. Sandbulte is in her eighth year serving as the principal of Cattell Elementary School. She has also worked as the school improvement leader and vocal music teacher at Harding Middle School.  Before arriving at DMPS in 2008, she began her teaching career at Pella Christian Grade School in Pella. Sandbulte has a bachelor’s degree in K-12 vocal music education from Central College in Pella, and a master’s degree in education leadership from the University of Iowa.

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Scott Nichols

Scott Nichols will become the new principal at Cattell Elementary School this summer. He is in his 11th year serving as the principal at Windsor Elementary School. He also worked as the dean of students at River Woods Elementary School. Before arriving at DMPS, Nichols was employed for 15 years as an elementary and middle school classroom teacher with the Humboldt-St. Mary’s and Knoxville (IA) school districts, where he was also a part of several district-wide efforts in areas ranging from the Iowa Core Curriculum to student behavior.  Nichols received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Iowa State University, and a master’s degree in effective teaching, learning, and leadership – curriculum, and specialist in educational leadership diploma both from Drake University.  Nichols takes over for current Cattell principal, Tiona Sandbulte, who will become the principal of Stowe Elementary.

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Ashley Inthalangsy

Please help us welcome Ashley Inthalangsy to the position of principal at Brubaker Elementary School. She is serving as the associate principal at Edmunds Elementary School, where she was also the released dean of students. Inthalangsy started her career with DMPS in 2005 as an elementary school teacher at Adams and Garton elementary schools. She became a literacy leader at Samuelson Elementary and served Oak Park Elementary for eight years as a literacy instructional coach, 21st Century coordinator, TLC instructional coach, and dean of students. Inthalangsy holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary teaching from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, and two master’s degrees, one in effective teaching and learning, and one in educational leadership, both from Drake University. Mark Adams, the current principal of Brubaker Elementary, will be a DMPS Talent and Personnel Manager.

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Benjamin LaConner

We are pleased to announce that Benjamin LaConner will become the new principal at Samuelson Elementary School. Ben is the associate principal at Hillis Elementary School this school year. He has also served as a Special Education consultant, summer school site coordinator, and an instructional strategist for DMPS. LaConner started his career in education as a second-grade teacher in Santa Barbara, Honduras. In 2015, he moved to Seattle, Washington where he was a financial secretary and board member with the Apex Belltown Cooperative and a Special Education teacher for Seattle Public Schools. He also worked as a Special Education and interventionist for Denver Public Schools and helped train teachers at the ADJ Bilingual School in Honduras before coming to Des Moines.  LaConner has a bachelor’s degree in socio-cultural studies from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN., and two master’s degrees, one in elementary education and special education from City University of Seattle in Seattle, WA., and one in educational administration from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. LaConner steps in for Cindy Roerig, who is retiring after four decades of serving Des Moines Public Schools students and staff.

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Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson will become the new principal at Windsor Elementary School. Johnson is the associate principal at Moore Elementary School. She has also served as an associate principal for Lewis Central Community Schools (LCCS) in Council Bluffs. In addition to her leadership experience, Johnson was a consultant for two area education associations, Heartland and Green Hills.  She started her career as a classroom teacher in Vinton-Shellsburg, then taught in LCCS before becoming an instructional strategist there. Johnson graduated from Wartburg College in Waverly with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She received her master’s degree in elementary reading and language arts from the University of Northern Iowa. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Principal Leadership Academy at the Prairie Lakes AEA. She steps in for Windsor Elementary principal Scott Nichols, who is leaving to become the new principal at Cattell Elementary this summer.

All positions officially begin on July 1, 2023, pending school board approval.