Jochum creates canvas full of winning scenes at Rousseau
Monica Jochum has painted many winning scenes in school classrooms during her educational career.
She is now creating a canvas full of successful moments for students at Rousseau Elementary School.
Jochum is beginning her first year at the helm of Rousseau’s hallways. She spent five years as principal at Randolph Elementary School before accepting her new job at 33rd and Calvert.
Lincoln Public Schools Director of Elementary Education Gena Licata said Jochum has made a smooth transition to the building. She felt Jochum was a great role model to highlight during National Principals Month.
“She is working hard to learn the Rousseau culture and community and build relationships with the students, staff, families and community,” Licata said. “She’s doing an excellent job!”
“Everyone has been really welcoming here,” Jochum said. “They’ve made it feel like home. I’ve met so many wonderful people who have been amazing to work with.”
Jochum has followed a similar career path as Maude Rousseau, who is the namesake of Rousseau Elementary. Rousseau began teaching at LPS in 1918 and served as the first principal of Randolph from 1926-47. She was widely admired for her work with Lincoln students.
Jochum owns bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Doane University and graduated from Doane’s education leadership cadre in May 2016. She spent six years teaching first grade at Millard Public Schools before moving to LPS in 2002. She taught second-grade students at Campbell Elementary for eight years and led second-grade classes at Adams Elementary for an additional eight years.
“I wouldn’t trade any of those years for the world,” Jochum said. “I treasure all of those years being in the classroom with students.”
The St. Paul, Neb., native chose to seek an administrative role at LPS after teaching graduate-level classes at Doane. She now oversees a building that includes more than 530 students and 60 staff members. She said one of the most important duties of being a principal is championing everyone who works there.
“At every single place I’ve been, I’ve seen how teachers care so much about the children they’re working with,” Jochum said. “I’ve seen how paras have cared and how all of the staff members have cared. It’s really powerful to watch. If there’s anything I can do to support them as a principal, then I want to do it, because I’ve seen the time and effort everyone puts into this.”
Jochum is leading a school that has developed a strong academic tradition. The U.S. Department of Education honored Rousseau with a National Blue Ribbon in 2018 for its classroom success.
Jochum said she enjoys her role as an elementary principal because of the relationships she is able to establish with students, families and staff members. Rousseau’s staff roster not only includes teachers but several student-support roles ranging from speech-language pathologists to custodians.
Jochum has been quick to shine the spotlight on others at every opportunity. She nominated Randolph students and staff for multiple local and state honors during her tenure there, and she celebrated their successes with many heartfelt words. She has continued those same encouraging actions at Rousseau.
“One thing you quickly learn at school is how there are so many people who work together to help our students,” Jochum said. “Where would we be without our custodians? Where would we be without our kitchen staff or our bus drivers or our office staff? We have awesome teachers and paras and they do so much for students. There are so many amazing people who help make our schools at LPS successful.”
Jochum spent time one morning at Rousseau being an advocate for students in several wings of the building. She helped two students as they worked on a story problem in one classroom, and she gave hugs to several children as they walked down a hallway. She then showcased a wide smile as she watched a fourth-grade student figure out the answer to a math problem at his desk.
Jochum said one student at Rousseau greets her with a smile and, “Hey, principal” each morning at school. She said moments like that are why she is eager to continue painting successful scenes of learning at LPS.
“To see those smiles just warms my heart,” Jochum said. “The children are so happy to come to school. They’re excited to be here and to spend time with each other. It’s why I love coming to work. It’s really exciting to see children and get to make a difference.”
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Published: October 30, 2023, Updated: October 30, 2023