New principals take the helm at three District 279 schools

Basswood, Edinbrook and Ferbrook elementaries welcome new leaders

Three elementary schools in the Osseo School District are starting the school year with new principals. Basswood in Maple Grove, Edinbrook in Brooklyn Park and Ferbrook in Maple Grove each experienced a change of leadership.

Patrick Smith is now in charge at Basswood, Nanette Yurecko at Edinbrook and Jeremy Willey at Fernbrook. Each principal brings prior administrative experience.

“We are thrilled to have our three new principals joining Osseo Area Schools,” Teri Staloch, assistant superintendent of leadership, teaching and learning, said in a statement. “They all bring strong elementary principal experience and are especially accomplished in our priority work of ensuring quality instruction and creating the systems to provide high levels of learning for all students. All three principals have a experience in closing the achievement gap and they will help forward our work toward equitable student achievement gains for all students. We know our students and our staff will flourish under their leadership and guidance.”

Here’s a brief introduction to each principal.


Patrick Smith

Smith has said returning to the Osseo district is like coming home because he grew up in Maple Grove and graduated from Osseo Senior High.

Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith

He comes to Basswood from Northport Elementary in Brooklyn Center, which is part of the Robbinsdale School District. Smith served as principal there four years. Smith also has years of teaching experience.

Smith started at Basswood July 1 and was busy for much of the second half of the summer hiring teachers and getting to know the school and district.

“It’s been a very welcoming experience for me,” he said. “They definitely have made me feel like home here.”

Smith said one of challenges he expects to face is adjusting to the size of the school.

“It’s definitely a lot bigger school (than Northport),” he said.

But he isn’t letting that daunt him.

“I’m looking forward to a new challenge,” he said. “… I’m excited for many years to come.”


Jeremy Willey

Willey brings to Fernbrook four years of experience as principal of Marion West Savage Elementary in the Burnsville School District. Prior to that he spent eight years in the Bloomington district teaching fifth and sixth grade and serving as dean of students.

Jeremy Willey
Jeremy Willey

Willey grew up in the Bloomington district, where his mother taught third grade. She taught in the district more than 30 years and was one of his inspirations to teach. He eventually ended up teaching in the same district and even in the same building.

“It was a really wonderful experience,” he said.

At the time, he thought he would teach forever but, at the urging of his mentors, he went down the administrative path. But he said the focus is always on the students.

“For me it’s always about students, and any way that I can work with today’s students to help create an educational experience that’s … what I would want for my own children is … a challenge I try to attack … with as much vigor as I can.”

Like Smith, Willey will be responsible for more students than before. He’s now leading a building with about 900 students, instead of 500.

“It’s really going to be a challenge to make sure I know every child’s name,” he said.

But he said he was excited for the challenge and has been eagerly anticipating the first day of school.


Nanette Yurecko

Yurecko comes to Edinbrook with 21 years of experience in the Eden Prairie and Minneapolis school districts. She is coming to Edinbrook from Eden Lake Elementary, where she was principal. She also has experience as an assistant principal, a central office administrator and a teacher.

Nanette Yurecko
Nanette Yurecko

Yurecko was originally a pre-law student at the University of Minnesota. But her experience volunteering with special education programs and the special Olympics in high school and college led her to work in special education. She started as a special education teacher in the Minneapolis district.

As a principal Yurecko believes she has the opportunity to make an impact on even more children than she did as a teacher.

“Instead of having a classroom, it’s being able to support an entire school community of kids,” she said.

She also enjoys supporting the teachers and working with parents.

“While the kids are my oxygen and the purpose for my work, I really enjoy this collaborating and supporting teachers and parents,” she said. “Because I think it takes all of us working collectively to make great things happen for our kids.”

Yurecko said it’s a privilege to be part of a district that has strong support from the community.

This year will be one of learning for Yurecko, as well as for the students, she said. But she’s excited to learn.

“It’s really important to me to listen to people and value their perspective and their input,” she said. “And so, you know, that’s really going to be my focus this year.”