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The career of a local educator is coming full circle following action at a special session of the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors.
At a special meeting April 27, the board approved the hiring of Josh Vanderflught as the new 7-12 building principal, replacing Bill Huntington who will assume the duties of K-6 principal at Lenox next year.
Vandeflught is no stranger to the Mount Ayr school system and the area in general
Raised in rural Kellerton, Vanderflught graduated from Lamoni High School in 1999, He then attended Graceland University, majoring in elementary education with a physical education emphasis.
During the student teaching phase of his education, Vanderflught worked with Betsy Budach in 5th grade at Mount Ayr Elementary.
He graduated from Graceland in December 2003 and married his wife Courtney the next month.
That fall he began his career in education back at Mount Ayr.
“I was very lucky to start my career in Mount Ayr,” Vanderflught said. “ I was hired in the fall of 2004 to teach 7-12 Level 3 special education. The following year I transferred to the elementary to teach 3-6 grade special education, and I also taught 5th grade for one year. My final year at Mount Ayr I got my first administrative experience as the dean of students at the elementary from November through May.”
Vanderflught also coached a number of sports during his time at Mount Ayr, including junior high volleyball for two years, junior high boys basketball for seven years, junior high softball for seven years, high school cross country for six years, and high school softball for seven years.
During his eight years at Mount Ayr, Josh and Courtney added two daughters to their family – Ella in January 2007 and Olivia in December 2007.
In 2012, the Vanderflught family moved to Gilbert, AZ
“I taught special education for three more years at Power Ranch Elementary,” said. “I was the special education department head and served on the district special education leadership team. In this role I got to lead professional development and was a mentor/model teacher for eleven schools in the district. In 2014 I was named the ‘Teacher of the Year’ for Power Ranch Elementary, earning district wide recognition.”
A career in educational administration soon followed.
“While I taught at Power Ranch, I worked to earn my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration, graduating with honors with a 4.0 GPA in the program,” Vanderflught said. “I was lucky to land a position as Assistant Principal/Activities Director at Cooley Middle School in the fall of 2015. In this role I handled discipline for approximately 1,000 seventh and eighth grade students, led the special education department, wrote 504 plans for over 50 students, evaluated 30 staff members, coordinated state and district testing for the campus, and served as the activities director.”
Building upon his success in Arizona, in the fall of 2017 the Vanderflught family returned to Iowa when he was named 6-8 principal and 7-12 activities director at the West Monona school district in Onawa.
A year later he was named K-8 principal along with AD duties at West Monona.
In the fall of 2020, in order to get closer to family, he accepted the positions of 6-12 principal and 7-12 AD at East Union in Afton.
Now, with the action at last week’s school board meeting, the Vanderflughts will return to where it all began.
“I am very excited to get even closer to family while returning to the district where I learned to be an educator,” he said. “It is a wonderful opportunity and I am very lucky to be chosen for this prestigious position. It is exactly where my family and I want to be. My daughters are excited to start school in the fall and we are currently working to find a home in the community. I truly see this as a destination position.”
From a leadership standpoint, Vanderflught looks forward to the coming weeks and months leading to the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.
“I am extremely excited to reconnect with the staff members that I know from the past and build relationships with the new members of the staff,” he said. “I believe my ability to relate to students, staff, and community members will make this a very successful fit for the district. I can’t wait to get to work building a vision for the future and a plan to push Mount Ayr from a great district to the best district in the state!”
Outside of school, Vanderflught said he looks forward to rejoining some of the activities he enjoyed during his first stint in Mount Ayr.
“In my free time I really enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters, playing games and goofing around,” he said. “I also enjoy hunting and fishing with my father and brother, spending a lot of time outdoors. I am still a sports fanatic and look forward to supporting the Raiders and Raiderettes!”