Stillwater Schools Announce Principal Changes at 5 Elementary Schools for Next Year

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.24.43 PM

Stillwater Area Public Schools on Tuesday afternoon announced leadership changes at schools across the district.

Here’s a look at the changes:

Lily Lake and Oak Park

Nate Cox will be the principal at Oak Park and Lily Lake elementary schools next year. The district will hire an assistant principal this summer to help with the leadership role at the two schools. Cox has served as principal at Oak Park since 2013. Prior to coming to Stillwater, he was a principal in the Willmar School District.

Marine and Withrow

Malinda Lansfeldt will take over as principal of Marine and Withrow elementary schools. Lansfeldt is currently the principal at Lily Lake Elementary School. Lansfeldt has been a principal at Lily Lake and Andersen elementary schools, and also served as the executive director of Learning Services and Elementary Education.


Stacey Benz will take over as principal of Andersen Elementary School. She is moving from her current position as principal of Marine and Withrow elementary schools. Benz will take over for Hugh Roberts, who accepted a position in another school district.

Cox, Lansfeldt and Benz will finish out the school year at their current schools, and will make the move to their new schools over the summer. They will spend the next several months meeting with staff and parents and getting to know their new school communities.


Carolyne Zieske, who has served as an interim principal at Afton-Lakeland since January, will remain the school’s principal next year. Zieske previously was a behavioral specialist at Lake Elmo Elementary School.

The district will also hire another assistant principal next year to help transition Stillwater Junior High from a 7-9 junior high to a 6-8 middle school in 2017-18.

With the move to a middle school model and the possible closure of three elementary schools, district leaders have designed a plan for next year that addresses vacancies in some of our schools while providing additional support in all of the district’s schools, Superintendent Denise Pontrelli said in an email to families of schools impacted by leadership changes.

“We are committed to making the best decisions we can to support our school communities as we move forward,” Pontrelli said in a prepared statement. “We not only want to fill vacant positions, we also want to align the skills of our principals with the needs of our school communities. We’re hesitant to hire new principals that may just be cut at the end of the year. We believe this plan best meets our needs for next year, and allows flexibility for the future as we await a decision by the court of appeals regarding school closure.”

Want more local stuff?

Stillwater Current is on a mission to spread local news. 

If you like what you see, try our daily email.