Bilden hired as 6-12 grade principal

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Laura Bilden is the newly-hired principal for grades 6-12 at Clayton Ridge Community School. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Clayton Ridge Community School District recently hired Laura Bilden as the principal for grades 6-12. She will replace Andy Peterson, who has resigned to accept a position in Dubuque. 

Bilden, an Iowa native, spent her formative years as a resident of West Union and Fayette. She pursued her academic education at Upper Iowa University, Fayette, where she earned her bachelor's degree in science, with a 6-12 grade all-science teaching endorsement. She is currently enrolled at Drake University and will earn her masters degree in educational leadership in December.

Bilden began her career in the Monticello School District as a high school science teacher where she taught chemistry and physics. She was later employed in the Starmont School District as the district's teacher leadership coordinator and instructional coach. While at Starmont, Bilden oversaw instructional coaching, mentoring and induction, and model teacher programs. Furthermore, Bilden partnered with classroom teachers to improve student learning outcomes. 

Principal Bilden told The Press, "As a coach, I worked one-on-one and in small groups with the Starmont teaching staff, providing guidance, resources and training. Together, we focused on practical strategies for engaging students to improve their learning experience." 

Bilden will reside in Guttenberg with her husband, Andrew, and their three children, Aubrey (9), Taetynn (4), and Brooks (2). Bilden shared, "I am excited for my children to be Eagles." Aubrey will start third grade at Clayton Ridge this fall, and Taetynn will attend preschool.  

Bilden's hobbies include listening to audiobooks, kayaking and camping. Her family also enjoys boating and spending time with family and friends at their cabin in Harpers Ferry. 

Bilden shared her inspiration for becoming an educator. "I was inspired to become a teacher while attending school in the seventh grade. I was going through a difficult time in my life, and my teacher at the time was empathetic to my struggles.  He went above and beyond to make sure I felt welcome in the classroom. He provided me with additional educational support, and instilled in me the ethics of hard work and determination.  He made me feel that I had something unique to offer to the world. His teaching philosophy had a tremendous impact on my life," she said.

Bilden's love of problem solving was the deciding factor in choosing a degree in the science field. "I have always been intrigued by understanding how the world works and studying the complexity of nature," she stated. Bilden is also drawn to school leadership because the problem-solving techniques used in science are similar to the methods used in school improvement.

Her experience as an instructional coach has garnered her additional insight into the education system. "As an instructional coach, I was able to see past the confined walls of one classroom and instead could see how all the components of a school fit together. I realized that I could have a broader impact on students by working to remove barriers preventing the different parts from working together at an optimal level," she explained. 

As a result, Bilden intends to focus on building robust school systems that support the vision of the Clayton Ridge Community School District. She plans to partner with teachers, students, parents, and community members to provide equal and quality educational opportunities for all students in preparation for their role in our changing democratic society and changing world.

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