Yoland Lopez to lead French Prairie Middle School as new principal 

After spending several years developing her career through education, Yolanda Lopez took a detour to a place she once called “home away from home.” It is the place where she unexpectedly started her career path. This time around, though, she will be the boss.

Lopez is the new principal at French Prairie Middle School, a place where she started as a special education assistant.

Lopez has been the assistant principal at Valor Middle School since 2014 but her career path started at French Prairie as special education assistant in 1998.

It all started one morning after dropping off her eldest of three boys at French Prairie middle school. She was approached by Geri Federico who was the Special Services Director at the time.  Federico felt she was a good fit for the special education assistant position available and hired her.

“I was hired contingent on me getting either my G.E.D. or finishing my last year of high school,” she said.

Lopez dropped out of Woodburn High School at the age of 16. She was in love and her father wasn’t sure how to handle the situation when he gave in to her request to leave school after completing her junior year. She then moved to Mexico, got married and started a family.

Eight years later Lopez and her family moved back to Woodburn. While she didn’t know it at the time, education was a calling for her. Not only did she immediately obtain her G.E.D. after getting hired, she continued her path in education as a student and as an educator.

Her first assignment in the education field was at French Prairie middle school where she served as a special education assistant for three years. Then she was reassigned to Success Alternative High School where she took the role of secretary-home school contact after completing more education courses. She continued enrolling in and completing education courses and eventually became a licensed teacher and later a school administrator.

“On July 2014 I was hired as an assistant vice-principal at Valor Middle School and that is where I’ve been the last five years,” said Lopez. “It has been a wonderful experience going from the teaching-sort-of-mentality to ‘now you are the leader’. You are the reason things happen or don’t happen. It’s been a journey.”

Lopez is looking forward to serving in her new role and wants parents to feel comfortable when visiting her school.

“The school is always open to parents,” said Lopez. “Feel free to stop by and visit our classrooms, say hi to teachers.  A great time to meet with our staff is during open house.”