Principal hopes to honor predecessor

Local News

BISMARCK, Ill. (WCIA) — It’s been more than two months since Bismarck-Henning Elementary School lost its leader. 51-year old Laura Girton died in May after a battle with cancer.

She was the school’s long-time principal. But now, someone else is taking the reins. Before Mrs. Girton was the principal at Bismarck, she was this reporter’s 1st grade teacher.

New principal Lisa Acton says she might never be able to fill Girton’s shoes, but she can continue her legacy.

Sometimes kids say it best. In Lisa Acton’s case, it was a 6-year old student who asked earlier this summer if she was going to be his new principal.

“I told him, ‘Buddy, they haven’t made a decision yet.’ Then he proceeded to tell me he knew Mrs. Girton had passed away. He aid to me that he hoped I would not leave as well.”

Last year, Acton was the curriculum advisor at the school. When Girton got sick, she stepped in to help.

“I wanted to continue to be here for the kids. They make every day so exciting and so special. You can’t have a bad day when you are around K – 4th graders.”

Superintendent Scott Watson says Acton’s passion and experience made her the perfect choice. But, it wasn’t an easy one to make.

“It was a tough process. It wasn’t tough because the people we had, just because of the emotional side.”

It was emotional for Acton too. Between teaching and advising at Bismarck, Acton knew Girton for more than 10-years.

“She was my mentor and my friend and I want to continue a lot of the things that she did here.”

One example is the school’s Maker Space. It lets kids do everything from code to create. Girton spearheaded the project.

“I really don’t feel like I will ever fill her shoes. She was one of those people who left a huge footprint.”

But, Watson has no doubt Acton will make a mark of her own.

“Her biggest quality is her passion for kids.This building is in wonderful hands and she’ll do a fantastic job for us and for the community.” 

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