Godwin Heights — It’s about 7:28 a.m. and Kim Urbanski is moving quickly through the halls of Godwin Middle School.
It is the second day of school and she is not about to miss one of her daily tasks as the school’s new principal — 7:30 a.m. morning announcements.
“Morning announcements,” she says to a couple of teachers helping to get students to class. “Does that mean another bad mom joke?” asks one as she walks by.
“Oh yeah,” Urbanski says, flashing a big smile. She notes she has a book of them that was given to her by her son and spends time looking up the jokes on the internet as well.
“I’m well stocked,” she adds with a laugh.
Urbanski is not a newbie to Godwin Heights or the middle school. She has been with the district for about 10 years, first serving as the middle school art teacher for fifth through eighth grades and the technology instructor for fifth and sixth. Around 2017, the district moved its fifth grade to North Elementary as it realigned its school buildings, and Urbanski continued to teach art at the middle school.
“I fell in love with Godwin Heights,” Urbanski said. “I absolutely love this district. I love our students, families and the community, and there’s something unique and special about what we have here.
“I learn from our students everyday and the community. It’s the different perspectives and being able to connect which has not only helped me grow myself as an individual and a professional, but also to help watch our students grow and mature.”
Art Teacher to Principal
For the past two years, Chad Conklin has been serving as principal of both the middle and high schools.
“Over the past few years, this building has seen a K-12 alignment, and having Chad has helped build so much stability and positive culture, but trying to be visible in two places all the time is really challenging,” Urbanski said, adding it became time for the middle school to have its own principal. Conklin will remain as the high school principal.
In 2009, Urbanski completed her master’s degree in education leadership. Last year, she worked closely with administration on the middle school’s multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), focusing on attendance, behaviors and course proficiency.
“This was just the right opportunity,” Urbanski said. “I loved Godwin so much, I didn’t want to leave Godwin. This is my home and my family.
“I have really taken a lot of pride in the positive relationships I’ve built with not only the students in the community, but also my colleagues and now getting to be the leader in this building is really exciting.”
Other than changing rooms — her principal’s office is actually the first classroom she had when she came to Godwin — Urbanski said her plan is to continue to move forward build on the goals and strategies for the middle school that are already in place.
“Our plan is still to be very aligned in our vision,” Urbanski said. She added that the middle and high school staff will continue to work together in professional development, learning, and the vision to help students from the beginning to the end of their school careers, including graduation. The goal is that by having a principal in both the middle school and the high school, the two will be able to continue to build on the district’s K-12 alignment and successes.
Urbanski noted there is one bonus in being principal.
“For years, I got to hear about all the cool things they did in their classes, so now I get to see them,” she said.
‘I absolutely love this district. I love our students, families and the community, and there’s something unique and special about what we have here.’— Godwin Middle School Principal Kim Urbanski
A Quick Morning Tour
Urbanski spent a few minutes before announcements visiting with students as they ate breakfast and prepared for the day. She checked in with them, asking about their day and following up on student questions while freely giving out fist bumps to those who wanted them.
“Hey, do you want to take a picture with me?” Urbanski asked, and before you knew it a pile of students were standing around her.
“She’s my favorite principal,” seventh-grader Gabby Parra said with a wink and smile.
Eighth-grader Alysin Harrold admitted she was not happy at first about the news of Urbanski becoming principal, but she has gotten used to the new art teacher.
“Now I am going to have to stay out of trouble because she is the prinicpal,” Alysin quipped.
Fast-forward to 7:30 a.m. on the dot and Urbanski started her morning announcements, running through school reminders and information before coming to the mom’s bad joke portion.
“Today’s bad mom joke of the day, are you ready?” she teased.
“How do you get straight As? You use a ruler.”