GOSHEN — Chamberlain Elementary School has a new leader for the coming school year.

Karen Blaha has been named the school’s principal.

The Goshen School Board unanimously approved the hire during Monday’s school board meeting.

She will take the helm on July 16, succeeding outgoing principal Kimberly Branham.

A native of Orland Park, Illinois, Blaha has worked in the education for 27 years.

The majority of her tenure has been spent at Joliet Public Schools in Illinois where she’s worked as a teacher, reading specialist, Response To Intervention instructor and literacy coach, among other roles.

She moved to northern Indiana in 2014, securing a job at Goshen Community Schools, where she served as a master teacher at Chamberlain Elementary School, the district’s curriculum director and most recently, she served the district as the director for programs for English language learners.

Goshen Superintendent Diane Woodworth said three “capable”  candidates were interviewed for the position by a joint committee of Chamberlain staff representatives and district administration. Each candidate also spent time in other leadership activities, she said.

In the end, Baha emerged as the recommended choice for the post, Woodworth said.

“Mrs. Blaha has demonstrated strong instructional leadership, a passion for learning and coaching teachers, high expectations for herself, her colleagues and students,” Woodworth said. “Her varied leadership experiences within and outside of Goshen Community Schools along with her positive approach in working with teachers and families makes her an excellent choice to serve as the next principal for Chamberlain Elementary School.”

Blaha said she’s honored to have been selected for the position and is excited to return back to Chamberlain.

“I just love the staff and students at Chamberlain school, so I feel like I’m coming home,” she said. “I’m looking forward to just working with everyone in a close capacity and I’m excited that Chamberlain is an expeditionary learning school because I love that kind of project-based learning… it’s exciting all around – the staff, the students, the curriculum. I can’t wait to get started.”

Blaha has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University, her K-12 administrative license and two master’s degrees – one in education and one as a reading specialist – all from the University of St Francis in Joliet, Illinois. She is currently pursuing her doctorate’s degree in educational leadership at the University of St. Francis and plans to graduate May 2019.

Blaha currently resides in Bristol with her husband Michael. Together they have two adult sons Sean and Dylan.

In other business:

The school board held a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed member Amanda Qualls.

Qualls was appointed by the school board to replace Jane DeVoe, who resigned in late May, for the at-large seat. She will serve the remainder of DeVoe’s term, which will conclude in December.

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