Zittergruen named Johnston’s new Human Resources Director; Burns will serve in interim JHS leadership role

Nate Zittergruen

Nate Zittergruen, Human Resources Director

JOHNSTON, Ia. (Jan. 24, 2023) — Dr. Nate Zittergruen has been selected as the Johnston Community School District’s new Human Resources Director, following approval Monday night by the school board.

He replaces Anthony Spurgetis, who left the district last summer, and Missy Brush, who has served as interim HR director since then.

Zittergruen has worked as one of two associate principals at Johnston High School since July 2019. He completed his doctorate in education with superintendent licensure from Drake University in June 2022. 


Kyla Burns, Interim JHS Student Support Facilitator

With Zittergruen’s move to the District Office, Kyla Burns, a former JHS science teacher and current instructional coach, has agreed to serve as Interim Student Support Facilitator, and eventually as Interim Associate Principal, at Johnston High School until a permanent replacement is named. 

“I’m excited to play a district-wide leadership role in the Johnston Community School District,” Zittergruen said. “This new position will allow me to take almost 20 years of teaching, coaching and administrative work and apply it, along with my recently completed doctorate, to serve about 1,000 staff members as well as prospective employees.”

His selection comes at a time when innovative recruitment and retention strategies are crucial. Johnston joins other school districts in having staff shortages in areas such as associates (in special education, general education, bus and nutrition), substitutes, bus drivers and before- and after-school KTC child care workers.  

“We welcome Nate’s experience in school leadership and his familiarity with our district, staff and students,” said JCSD Superintendent Laura Kacer. “We’ve enjoyed working with Nate as an associate principal and look forward to continuing a partnership with him and watching both his contributions and his growth.” 

Before serving as associate principal at JHS, Zittergruen worked as an assistant principal at Timberline School in Waukee, as well as at Waukee High School. Prior to that, he served as an associate principal at Johnston Middle School, and as an assistant athletic director in Johnston. He was a business teacher and coach at Dowling Catholic High School and at Collins-Maxwell Middle and High School.  His management experience has included developing a master schedule, managing students, supervising special education, evaluating teachers and providing professional development. 

Burns has been a part of the Johnston Community School District for 18 years. She started her career as a science teacher, teaching biology, zoology, and AP environmental science. She is active in both state and national science education initiatives. She is a board member of the Iowa Conservation and Education Coalition and is a member of the State Science Leadership Team. In 2021, Burns was a finalist in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  

For the last two years, Burns has been an instructional coach at Johnston High School. In this role, she worked as an instructional leader to support teachers and administrators in instruction, curriculum, and assessment. Knowledge of the school’s staff, students, and systems will help Burns transition into her new interim role for the remainder of the school year. The JHS Associate Principal position will be posted in the spring and a competitive hiring process will take place.