New Leschi Elementary principal Lisa Moland has lived in the neighborhood for the past 32 years, where she and her husband raised five children.

“And each of them went to Leschi,” she said.

Moland taught in the Renton School District for 15 years before going to work for Seattle Public Schools. She spent two years as an assistant principal at Dunlap Elementary, three years as assistant principal at Denny International Middle School, and then was assistant principal at Leschi Elementary last year.

“The number seven is significant for me,” Moland said. “My seventh year with the district, I’m the principal. And it was on my mother’s birthday.”

Rhonda Claytor was principal at Leschi Elementary for five years, making the move from Gatewood Elementary in 2013. Claytor left Leschi to become a special education teacher at the high school level.

“When she told me that, of course I wanted to be here,” Moland said. “Love the students. Love the staff.”

She said she also loves the Montessori-split teaching model, which she credits Claytor for establishing at Leschi Elementary. Children spend half the day learning math and science in a Montessori classroom, and the other half of the day is focused on language arts and social studies. The move was made to address unintentional segregation in classrooms in the highly diverse neighborhood.

Last year there were 403 students attending Leschi Elementary, 43 percent being black, 33 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic and 11 percent identifying as multiracial. Forty-six percent were in the free/reduced lunch program.

Moland said Leschi Elementary administrators and staff are focused on building equity at the school.

“We are a School of Promise right now, which means we’re focused on our African American male achievement goals,” Moland said.

The goal is to have students at 100 percent proficiency in their reading level by third grade.

Leschi participates in literacy and math nights, and a global reading challenge every year, Moland said, adding the school always needs more volunteers.

“We can always use someone to listen to a scholar read,” she said.

Moland doesn’t like using the word trouble, and said students go through restorative circles instead of receiving a suspension for inappropriate behavior. They write apology notes, she said, and sometimes provide community service around the school. Roleplaying has also proven to be effective, Moland said.

“It’s not a bad thing to go to the principal’s office,” she said. “We’re going to talk. We’re going to work it out.”

The Leschi principal said the parent-teacher association is strong, and provides an allowance for classroom materials and supports a few positions at the elementary school.

“We were so fortunate to get a counselor this year,” Moland said. “She’s part-time. We share her with Dunlap Elementary for 2 1/2 days.”

Moland now has a granddaughter who attends Leschi Elementary.

“This is her second year with me. She started here as a kindergartener,” she said, later adding she’d asked her what she thought of her grandmother being her principal. “She said, ‘Well, it’s OK, it’s good.’ I think she just, at the school, finds love around the school.”