By Brenden West
CLINTON — Departing Clinton High principal Karinne Tharaldson Jones now has a successor.
The Clinton School board on Monday unanimously approved current CHS associate principal JohnRyan (“JR”) Kuch as the new high school principal during its regular meeting. Kuch, 31, was in attendance with his wife, Abbey Nagle-Kuch. While the two live in DeWitt at the moment, they plan to make Clinton their home in the future.
“I would just like to say thank you very much for the opportunity to lead the high school,” Kuch said prior to the board’s vote. He was hired two years ago by Tharaldson Jones and said he appreciates the environment. “We really do have the best staff and the best students, and I couldn’t have walked into a better situation.
“Clinton High is in good hands. I’ve got a great team behind me.”
VIDEO: Kuch on why he wanted to be principal
Tharaldson Jones’ contract officially expires at the end of the month.
Kuch grew up mostly through the North Scott School District in Eldridge, briefly moving to Muscatine before returning to graduate at NS High. He then attended St. Ambrose University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2005.
His first two jobs were at elementary schools. After teaching fifth grade and coaching basketball at North Scott, Kuch said he felt it was time for a change.
“I kind of realized I wanted to do something different,” Kuch said. “I felt I had a bigger calling.”
Kuch returned to SAU and obtained a master’s degree in education administration as well as an MA in reading and literacy from Warren University. By the time he arrived in the Clinton School District, he reflected thankfully that Tharaldson Jones was able to see past a career spent mostly in elementary classrooms.
Now, “I’m definitely ready for the next step,” Kuch said.
Moving to the community will be delayed as the family awaits the arrival of their first child. Nagle-Kuch also recently accepted a job as senior director of financial planning in Davenport’s Palmer College. She previously served as the city’s chamber of commerce director.
Both said they are eager to move to Clinton.
Board President Jim McGraw embraced the hire before joining his colleagues with a “yes” vote.
“We certainly welcome you, JR,” McGraw said. “I think you’ll find that this community is very welcoming.”
Superintendent Deb Olson said Kuch’s passion and background made him the right hire. She described him as a “creative innovator.”
“He’s a very kids-first person and that’s what drove him right to the top,” Olson said. “Kids and parents are comfortable around him. Having knowledge of what’s going on right now is also helpful.”