Throener family

Laura Throener is the new K-5 Principal/District SPED Director at Elk Point-Jefferson. She and her husband, Toby, have lived in Elk Point 12 years. Their children Tuck, left, and Tenley, right, are students at EPJ.

Laura Throener uses the word communication a lot. Considering the new job she’s taking, that concept will be key.

Throener, MSE, MA, CCC-SLP, is currently an Early Childhood Speech-Language Pathologist in the South Sioux City Community Schools. Starting July 1, she will be the K-5 Principal/District SPED Director for the Elk Point-Jefferson School District. There could hardly be a more challenging time for the district and for a new administrator.

Assuming school starts on time this fall, EPJ students will have been sitting at home nearly five months. Making up that time will be a monumental task, but one that Throener thinks she’s uniquely able to take on. With her special education and speech pathology background, she’s ready for the challenge.

“Maybe that is a good part, that I’m coming in when I am, is that the premise of special education is bridging gaps, how to play catch-up a little bit,” Throener said. “How do we get students to the place they need to be?”

Right now, a group of teachers and administrators are working to come up with plans for the most likely fall scenarios. Throener calls them plans A, B and C, with maybe D, E and F, depending on how the public health situation unfolds.

They’re focusing on standards – identifying which weren’t hit in the two months students missed classtime. Then they’ll prioritze those standards and hit hard on the most important ones for the first month.

It will, as Throener likes to say, take a good deal of communication.

“Special education is being able to communicate with staff and parents and students in an effective way,” she said. “As a speech pathologist, I have the ability to teach kids to communicate effectively, so I think that is so cool. If you get a firm foundation of communication, everything else runs pretty smooth.”

In her job at South Sioux, Throener was getting ready to hit a milestone – 10 years. She felt it was time for a change, so when Janet Ries announced her retirement from EPJ, Throener knew where she wanted to go next – the town where she and her husband, Toby, already live and raise their two children, Tenley and Tuck.

She’s not concerned about being the principal in a school where Tenley will be in third grade and Tuck in kindergarten. The pros of living in Elk Point far outweighed any cons.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.