June 03, 2023

Right place at right time for named principal

Creston Community School District employee Lesa Downing has seen many of the school’s operations since starting in 1996. She’s led classrooms. She’s been on the sidelines. The last eight years, she’s been a coach for teachers.

Now she can add administration to that list.

Downing was named middle school principal and her new position starts July 1. She will replace Brad Baker who resigned earlier this year.

“I’ve waited for a long time,” she said about the role. “And I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

Downing said she has applied before when Creston administration positions were vacant, but she said her perserverance and timing are what made differences this time.

“God has a way of answering prayer,” she said. “The last time I applied for the position, and didn’t get it, it crushed my ego.”

Downing said having had the teacher coach position will help her with her strategy as a principal.

“It’s a servant position,” she said. “You are here to help.”

Downing noted how various studies show the better a classroom teacher, the better chances of students reaching success levels.

“I want them to have all the tools,” she said about teachers. “That’s what I want to carry on to principal.”

Downing said she also will bring her years of experience and influence to the principal position. She explained how she has seen different strengths and weaknesses with past administrators, but was able to learn something from each one. She plans on applying those lessons learned.

“You have to feel valued,” she said about the desired response of people she will work with.

The value philosophy she said was learned after her time at Southern Illinois University. She worked retail and quickly learned how a customer will feel valued if treated as such.

Downing wants to treat the middle school students the same. She wants them to feel as they have importance being in school beyond the classroom.

“I want to give middle school students a voice. I want to give them an opportunity for them to know they belong.”

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.