They are familiar faces who now will have some different roles and additional responsibilities within their buildings when classes resume in August. And, all three of them are looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
Former St. Clair R-XIII School District assistant principals Mike Hunter, Larrinda Witt and Steve Weeks now have taken the step forward and are in charge of their respective buildings. Hunter is the St. Clair High School principal, Witt is now the boss at Edgar Murray Elementary and Weeks is the top man at St. Clair Elementary.
They join holdover Steve Weinhold, principal at St. Clair Junior High, Assistant Superintendents Mark Denbow and Nadine Myers and Superintendent Mike Murphy to make up the R-XIII administrative team.
Myers was the elementary principal this past academic year, but was promoted to the central office at about the same time as Hunter, Witt and Weeks.
All of them officially started their new jobs on July 1.
“I like to look at it as all stakeholders having one goal,” Hunter said. “The goal is pretty simple: prepare students to become successful in life.”
Hunter was the first of the three to secure a building principalship as he was offered his new job in the middle of February. Witt was hired to be Edgar Murray’s new principal at the beginning of March. Weeks’ promotion followed at the end of March.
Hunter and Witt take over for Kevin Hillman and Kent Sherrow, respectively, who accepted administrative positions in other districts closer to their homes.
“My philosophy is to do whatever it takes to meet the individual child’s needs to help them be successful,” Witt told The Missourian. “So my approach will be the same when we make decisions for our school. Is it in the best interest of the students?”
Hunter had similar thoughts.
“My philosophy is never lose an opportunity to teach a student about life,” he said. “Our job is to prepare students for life. My approach changes somewhat, but I’ve always felt that every decision is what is best for the school and kid. Every job I’ve ever had, I have carried this belief.”
And Weeks has a similar overall philosophy heading into the fall.
“Several of my goals for St. Clair Elementary are to continue to increase academic achievement, support district initiatives and help foster an environment where students are encouraged to be lifelong learners and productive citizens,” he said. “We will continue to work on aligning our curriculum with the state common core standards during the upcoming year.”
However, all three also have specific things in mind pertaining to their individual schools.
Following is what each had to say.
“We have some very exciting changes occurring,” Hunter said. “First and foremost is the already known one-to-one (digital technology) implementation beginning. The district took a giant leap forward with this initiative. It is a monumental shift to prepare our students for the digital world in which they will be entering.
“One other big change we will have is the new Link Leader program. This program is a freshman orientation program that allows for upperclassmen leaders to mentor small groups of freshmen throughout the course of the year. They will provide veteran advice and expertise on how to succeed at the high school level. The focus will not just be on academics as the Link Crew leaders will work with freshmen on social success skills as well.
“We also have another new leadership group that will be responsible for providing motivational and inspirational tips and activities for our students. Much of what they will do will focus on student empowerment.”
“Murray Elementary has had a lot of growth and success the past three years due to the quality staff and their commitment to education and the new initiatives,” Witt said. “My goal is for us to sustain the momentum and continue to provide a positive, caring, literacy-rich environment.
“We will also continue to develop our curriculum so that it aligns to the state common core standards and has technology-based teaching and learning approaches. Our focus will be to continue to provide a high-quality education that is engaging and challenging for our students.”
As far as changes, Witt noted the following:
“A change you will see at Murray will be the implementation of the Leader in Me initiative. Administrators, faculty and students will be introduced to the seven habits of highly effective people in a ubiquitous fashion, integrating them into the curriculum, traditions, systems and culture of Murray. The Leader in Me equips students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy. It encourages our students to be actively involved in their learning so they build the skills highly needed to succeed in school and beyond.
“Another change at Murray will be the implementation of more digital learning to continue to increase student achievement and to help close the learning gaps. We will also use social media and technology to engage our parents more in their child’s learning and to help communicate with them about their child’s educational day.
“Finally, we aspire to have the school of our dreams, and we believe with the current staff, community and parent support and motivated students that we can achieve it.”
“Continuing to collaborate with the other district principals will be important as we continue to move forward on district initiatives such as the Missouri Reading Initiative, one-to-one computing and aligning district curriculum,” Weeks said. “I am looking forward to working with the parents, students and staff of St. Clair Elementary this coming year.”
The principals also talked about the opportunity to continue to work together.
“Our district administrative team includes some of the best administrators in the state, and I look forward to working with them on the district initiatives to help our students meet their full potential,” Witt said.
“One of the draws of taking the job was the relationships already built with other administrators in the district from building level to central office,” Hunter said. “We work well together and share the same goals. I see those relationships strengthening as we move forward.
“It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
New assistant principals will be in place in each of the four R-XIII school buildings.
At the elementary, former St. Clair teacher Sande Racherbaumer is the new second in command.
At Edgar Murray, St. Clair graduate and local resident Beth Hill will assist Witt.
Eric Lause was hired to be the assistant at the junior high.
At the high school, former SCJHS assistant principal Jeff Hamlett has moved to be the No. 2 man at SCHS. Ted Koenigsfeld also has moved to the high school and will be an administrative intern.