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Riceville native picked as new Charles City middle school principal

Joe Taylor
Joe Taylor
By James Grob,

The fourth new administrator in a year will officially join the Charles City School District starting July 1.

The district announced Thursday that Joseph Taylor will be recommended to the Charles City Community School District Board of Education to become the new Charles City Middle School principal.

“I felt a strong sense of belonging and connection as I visited with the leadership, staff and students throughout the day,” Taylor said. “Charles City Community School District’s vision and mission are closely aligned to my personal values and beliefs. The progressive nature and forward view on education completely sealed the deal for me.”

The school board will take official action, pending a background check, to approve Taylor’s contract at the March 18 meeting. Taylor will officially begin on July 1.

“Our teachers, students and senior leaders are excited for him to join our family to continue building the Charles City Advantage,” said Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher.

Taylor replaces Rick Gabel, who announced his retirement on Feb. 4. Gabel will continue working with students as an at-risk coordinator, developing support systems for students in the Clarksville Community School District. Gabel served the Charles City Community School District for 19 years and graduated from Charles City High School in 1982.

“I love the direction that the school district is going,” Gabel said in February. “I’m excited to see the next person they get in here, who’s going to get to be a superstar and help the district move forward.”

Taylor will be the fourth new administrator hired by the district in the last year. Fisher replaced Dan Cox as superintendent last July when Cox left Charles City after five years to accept a position as chief administrator of the Northwest Area Education Association, based in Sioux City.

Thomas Harskamp replaced Keith Reuter as middle school associate principal when Reuter accepted the K-12 principal position at Clarksville. Bryan Jurrens succeeded Josh Johnson as high school principal when Johnson accepted a regional administrator position with Central Rivers Area Education Agency.

Taylor is currently the middle school principal and athletic director at South Hardin Middle School in Hubbard. The South Hardin school district encompasses South Hardin High School and South Hardin Middle School as well as Eldora-New Providence and Hubbard-Radcliffe elementary schools. Taylor and his wife have three children.

“My family and I could not be more excited and humbled to be joining the Comet leadership team,” Taylor said. “Many things attracted me to the middle school principal position at Charles City.

“I love the location, as I grew up just a few miles north in Riceville. Charles City is the perfect place to raise my family with its big, small town feel and friendly hometown atmosphere.”

Taylor was picked to lead the Charles City Middle School from a pool of 35 candidates. According to a release from the Charles City School District, during his tenure in the South Hardin Community School District, Taylor led changes that increased student math and reading proficiency on Iowa Assessments. As part of his success, he decreased student behavior challenges and increased middle school participation in parent/teacher conferences by 34 percent.

“We are pleased to have Joe joining the Charles City Community School District family,” said Fisher. “His committed leadership and proven track record of goal-driven change will be an excellent fit to our senior leadership team.”

Before being named to lead South Hardin Middle School, Taylor served as a professional learning community facilitator, middle school social studies teacher, and athletic coach for Clear Creek Amana Schools in Tiffin. He has also taught in Oxford and Soldotna, Arkansas.

He graduated from Riceville High School in 1999. He attended college at Winona State and Viterbo in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Taylor is also a 12-year United States Army Reserve veteran. He served as a combat engineer and reached the rank of staff sergeant. He served a tour of duty in Iraq from 2003-2004.

“He brings the experience and background of service that will benefit our students and staff,” Fisher said. “His passion for learning and student-driven relationship-building were evident from the moment he stepped on our campuses.”