Five of the nine public school superintendents in St. Joseph County are entering their first full year as superintendents of their respective districts. Here’s a roundup of the nine principals and an update on what’s new in their respective districts.
STURGIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Art Ebert
Age: 44Superintendent years at Sturgis: From the fifth year.Salary 2022-23: $147,653Estimated number of students: 3,000Status of the teaching contract: Four-year contract (2022-2026). The agreement moves all eligible staff up one step on the salary scale and adds one step to columns C and D. In addition, the collective agreement provides for a 2% increase in the salary scale each school year with an increase additional 1% if enrollment is equal to or greater than previous year’s enrollment.What’s new? “At Sturgis Public Schools, we strive to maximize the true potential of every student. We are fortunate to have a team of over 300 exceptional educators and support staff who are focused on achieving these aspirations. Through their efforts, we provide rigorous learning environments that are student-focused, strategically collaborative, and taught through a variety of experiences and opportunities. Additionally, we strive to build lifelong learners and break down the barriers that stand in the way of success. To create student-centered and strategically collaborative learning environments, we will install flexible furniture in our classrooms over the next three to five years. This exciting initiative begins with Eastwood Elementary School, which had new flexible classroom furniture installed this summer. The new furniture allows flexibility, variety, movement, choice and collaboration. There are desks and tables of varying sizes, stools and chairs that wiggle and wobble, height-adjustable worktops, and furniture on felts and wheels. For example, the classroom can quickly shift from full group instruction to small group collaboration, paired teams, and individual work. Additionally, the furniture is designed to place students at the center of each learning environment. This is accomplished by equipping teachers with tools designed to enhance coaching opportunities, spark active learning, and support differentiation throughout the classroom.
BURR OAK COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Kristina Owens
Age: 56Years Superintendent at Burr Oak: From the third year.Salary 2022-23: $88,959Estimated number of students: 260 on campus, 140 at Burr Oak Virtual Academy, and 85 at Step Up (online alternative education).Status of the teaching contract: Not unionizedWhat’s new? “New teachers on staff and new subjects for students. Full-time K-12 physical education is back with new teacher, Steve Bucklin; woodworking and outdoor recreation, with a new teacher, Vince Royer, Burr Oak alumnus and head football coach; freshman teacher Braxton Hernandez, Burr Oak alumnus; and new kindergarten teacher, Debbie Sommers. Many teacher assignment changes have been made based on certifications and where we need it – every teacher in the district is teaching something they have never taught before. We have a new position, a school-based therapist and a preventative therapist on-site with a 50/50 time split, overseen by Burr Oak alumnus Crystal Hughes. Another new position is that of behavioral interventionist, filled by Ryan VanDosen, also the new athletic director. We have new student/parent handbooks, a new bullying policy and a new support staff handbook. We are in the planning stages for smaller classrooms, large scale projects, improvements to the west wing of the building (weight room, coaches office, sports warehouse, woodworking room, drafting room that will serve for two purposes for school board meetings). Our school improvement plan includes district-wide writing goals and a culture of learning. »
CENTREVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Chad Brady
Age: 45Years Superintendent at Centerville: From the first year.Salary 2022-23: $125,000Projected number of students: 900Status of the teaching contract: FinalizedWhat’s new? “Registrations are expected to be the highest in over 10 years. Our staffing strategy has been a huge success, with our district meeting its staffing goals and needs. In addition to many new staff throughout the district, we also have a new administrative team: a new superintendent, two new principals, two new deans of students, a new transportation director and a new maintenance/ the guard. The development of a new strategic plan is underway and in general there is a new level of energy and excitement about the direction of the district. »
COMMUNITY COLON SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Rachel Kowalski
Age: 38Years Superintendent at Colon: From the first year.Salary 2022-23: $110,000Estimated number of students: 545Status of the teaching contract: Installed until 2024.What’s new? “So many! We’ve added a STEAM special/optional to our elementary and secondary buildings. STEAM is a classroom where science, technology, engineering, arts, and math are integrated. Diverse and strong schedule for our students from middle and high schools, allowing us to offer elective courses such as Advanced Placement in U.S. Government and Politics, Magi Leadership, Street Law, and Financial Literacy.Our Board approved a new Loop Project, pick-up and parking facilities for elementary school buses. This will alleviate some of the congestion and confusing traffic patterns. With federal funds from ESSER, we were able to purchase a rigorous new social studies and science curriculum at the primary and secondary.This program offers students the opportunity to engage in productive struggle and helps our teachers push them to new levels of learning. ge. We added air conditioning units in our middle and high school classrooms. We have many new employees – administrators and teachers who are committed to serving the community and making Colon a great place to learn, live and work. (The district is also reopening Leonidas School this year.)
CONSTANTINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Joe Holloway
Age: 46Years superintendent in Constantine: From the first year.Salary 2022-23: $129,500Estimated number of students: 1,350Status of the teaching contract: A new contract was concluded this summerWhat’s new? “We are excited to start the school year with many new faces. There is an ongoing commitment to our students and staff as we tackle the same issues facing all districts – mental health supports and school safety.
MENDON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Leasa Griffith-Mathews
Age: 55Superintendent years in Mendon: From the fifth year.Salary 2022-23: $99,329 (includes instructional tips for grades 6-12).Estimated number of students: 450Status of the teaching contract: colonizedWhat’s new? “We have a new volleyball coach, Kenny Herbert, coming to us from upstate. This is our last year in the SW-10 league, so this year will be full of preparing for the new league (SCAA) and saying goodbye to a league we helped develop. We have a monarch butterfly station at the south end of our middle/high school building. Several sophomores, with a little help, begin by adding butterfly-friendly plants to the landscape to create a way station that will be registered with the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch program. This was originally funded by our Mendon Schools Foundation and the Maurice Cupp Memorial Fund. The students plan to write grants each year to grow the station, and with community support and donations, we hope for great things.
Nottawa Community School (K-8)
Superintendent: Jerome Wolff
Age: 41Superintendent years in Nottawa: From the sixth year.Salary 2022-23: $79,900Estimated number of students: 160sStatus of the teaching contract: Installed 2022-2023What’s new? “Building renovations are nearing completion. Teachers and students look forward to air-conditioned classrooms and high-quality air filtration to stay healthy. Improvements have also been made to security and fire safety. We have renewed our reading program and are reintroducing handwriting. Our eighth graders will once again take a course in personal finance. Overall, there’s a lot of positive buzz about the start of the new school year.
THREE RIVERS COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
Superintendent: Nikki NashAge: 47Years Superintendent at Three Rivers: From the first year.Salary 2022-23: $135,000Projected number of students: About 2,315Status of the teaching contract: Good until the 2022-2023 school year.What’s new? “Continuation of work on current bond series, transition to series two – TRMS and transportation projects are in the design phase with the renovation of the sports stadium and high school music which will begin in late fall / at the beginning of winter. Two new elementary school principals: Julie Jackson at Norton Elementary and Amanda Fahnestock at Park Elementary. We also have a new Deputy College Principal, Anthony Wolbert, and our new Program Director is Jennifer Graber. In addition, 72-inch interactive panels have been placed in all classrooms.
White Pigeon Community Schools
Superintendent: Shelly McBride
Age: 43Superintendent years at White Pigeon: From the first year.Salary 2022-23: $108,000Projected number of students: 730Status of the teaching contract: Three-year contract until 2025.What’s new? “White Pigeon Community Schools has just passed a third renewal of our sinking fund and will begin reviewing plans for this beginning next summer. We have a new administration at Central Elementary, at the high school and in our athletic department. We will have a full-time Resource Officer at WPCS for the next five years through WPCS’ partnership with the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department. School spirit and pride are there! #ChefPride. »