ST. CLOUD - Plenty of people have been taking shots at Kevin Durant for "taking the easy way out" since his decision to join the Golden State Warriors earlier this summer.

You can add new North Junior High Principal Ellen Stewart to that list. She's starting her 23rd year in education and says she'd much rather embrace a Lebron James mentality in her education career.

"I was talking to my kids the other day and I told them: I'm like Lebron James because he went to some teams and then they won and were successful. I'm not like Kevin Durant: I'm not going to take my talents to a very successful team, because then I don't have to work as hard."

It's safe to say that Stewart enjoys a challenge.  She embraces North's diversity and looks forward to welcoming different points of view. One of her top goals going into this year is to help reduce the achievement gap in the District and improve school testing scores.

Stewart previously spent time at schools in Minneapolis and also helped to open a school in Richmond, Virginia. She was even a professional basketball player in the 1990's.

"I was in the WBA league and that was in 1995, we played a year in the metro area and we also traveled to other states close by."

After playing, Stewart helped with scouting and player evaluation when the Minnesota Lynx were first formed. She says her educational and athletic background combined create her strong desire for a challenge and to give back to others.

"Nothing can take out of me the passion that I have to work in education: I just love seeing students become successful and also seeing the growth of teachers."

The District 742 website says Stewart was also Miss Black Minnesota in 1988-1989. She has three children.