"Wonderful, friendly and welcoming,” is how Kelly Cassinger — the new principal at St. Vincent de Paul School, Dutzow, describes the school atmosphere.

Cassinger spent the last 10 years as a classroom teacher at St. Paul Catholic School, St. Paul. She taught fifth-grade homeroom, fifth- through eighth-grade science, as well as first and third grade.

And while Cassinger said she never saw herself as a principal “God just led me on this path,” she said.

“Things just kept falling into place and I ended up here,” she said.

She was recommended for a leadership program by the St. Paul principal and agreed to participate. It was held at the Catholic education office in St. Louis.

“Within 10 minutes of the first meeting, I had an epiphany of ‘this is what I’m supposed to be doing,’ ” she said.

Cassinger said St. Vincent is a tight-knit community, similar to where she taught in St. Paul.

As principal, she said her main focus is doing what is best for the students.

She looks forward to getting to know the students and their families.

“Every day is different from being a teacher to being a principal,” she said. “My to-do list might get pushed aside, but I like the craziness of not knowing what might happen.”

Cassinger attended St. Charles Community College for her associate degree. She earned her Bachelor of Science in education from Missouri Baptist University and her Master of Education from the same college in 2010.

She lives in Old Monroe with her husband, Eric, and their children, Avery, 8, Adalynn, 6, and Darren, 3.