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HomeCommunitySilver BayWilliam Kelley School’s Principal Nicklay Retires

William Kelley School’s Principal Nicklay Retires

For the current students at Wil­liam Kelley School, Joe Nicklay is the only principal they have ever known. Now after nineteen years working in the Lake Supe­rior School District – five years as a teacher in Two Harbors, and fif­teen as principal at William Kel­ley – Nicklay is retiring.

A 1979 graduate of Woodbury Senior High School, Nicklay at­tended St. Paul Technical Voca­tional Institute, now known as St. Paul College, where he graduat­ed from the Tool, Die, and Mold Making program. After gradu­ation, he worked at Wilson Tool International for five years. Nick­lay also attended Mankato State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Teaching Technology Education, a Masters of Science in Educational Leader­ship, and an Educational Special­ist in Administration.

Nicklay initially applied for the position of William Kelley School principal because the school seemed like “the perfect fit” for him. He has enjoyed “be­ing a part of this amazing school and community.”

Filling the position of principal will be Dan Johnson, who began his “educational journey” as a math teacher at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, a position he held for two years. Johnson was then hired at William Kelley School to teach 7th to 12th grade math, which he did for eleven years, also becoming involved in coach­ing and other extracurricular ac­tivities. During that time, Johnson earned his master’s degree and administrative license. He and his wife have lived in Normanna Township in St. Louis County for 24 years.

After receiving his administra­tive license Johnson applied for a position as assistant principal at Virginia High School, and worked there for a year before taking the position of elementary principal at Roosevelt Elementary in Virginia, MN, a building of around 560 students in grades 3-6. About two weeks before the start of his second year at Roosevelt, Johnson received a call from the Lake Superior School District wondering if he was interested in applying for an open assistant principal position at Two Harbors High School. Johnson accepted that position, and at the conclusion of the year was invited to take on the role of Curriculum Director, a new position for the district.

“Ever since leaving the Lake Superior School District, my goal has been to return,” says Johnson. “I have enjoyed working with the families and the communities of [the] Lake Superior School District, and I understand and know the commitment they have to the education of our children. I have learned a great deal this year in the position of Curriculum Director, and I am excited to take that knowledge to help meet the goals of our district.” He continues with praise for the Lake Superior School district, citing its “strong teachers who are committed to ensure that every student is successful, and this is supported by the administrative team and the school board.”

When asked what he is most looking forward to as William Kelley School Principal, Johnson said “working with the students, teachers, staff, families, and communities…I like the variety and the opportunities for connections that a K-12 building allows, and I am excited to reconnect with the families that I knew when I was a teacher at WKS and the families that I will get to know.”

Thank you, Principal Nicklay, for your years of service to William Kelley students and families; and welcome, Dan Johnson, as you embark on this next phase of life.

Haley Searls
Haley Searls
Hello! My name is Haley Searls. I’ve loved writing from an early age, though my nonfiction writing at five years old consisted mainly of weather and gardening reports. I still have some of those early articles: “It’s sunny.” “It’s still sunny.” “It’s raining.” I’m glad to say my writing has improved since then. I wrote a guest post for the Silver Bay Public Library blog, and was the writer/editor of the newsletter for my American Heritage Girls troop. I have been writing for the North Shore Journal since June 2022. Besides writing, I love reading, drawing, photography, music, and spending time with family and friends. Two books that have really influenced my writing are Reforming Journalism by Marvin Olasky and Writer to Writer by Bodie and Brock Thoene. As a journalist, I want to share positive community interactions and inspire people to make lasting connections. Article topics that interest me are ones which show community activities and involvement. Such articles include community events, youth accomplishments, library programming, small businesses, local history, local artists and authors, art programs, and cultural events such as theater and dance. If you have an article idea, email the North Shore Journal with my name in the subject line! I look forward to hearing from you!
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