The new principal at Washington Middle School is a familiar face to students, parents and staff.

Laura Bruckerhoff, the current associate principal, has been named principal, effective July 1, 2019.

The school board approved the selection in closed session Wednesday night. 

Bruckerhoff is in her fifth year as associate principal. She will replace Ron Millheiser, who is retiring at the end the 2018-19 school year.

“Laura brings such wonderful experience, enthusiasm and a sense of team that the interview committee recognized and is excited about,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rachael Franssen.

“We had 17 applicants for the position, and nine were invited to interview after the initial application screening,” said Franssen, who led the interview committee.

Candidates interviewed with a team of predominantly middle school staff, she said.

The committee included Tom Haddox, middle school teacher and coach; Shelley Struckhoff, guidance counselor; Chris Gauzy, administrative assistant; Carrie Schmidt, teacher; Amanda Truetken, speech and language pathologist at both the middle school and high school; and Shawn Wallace, WHS assistant principal.

After the committee process, the finalists interviewed with Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer.

“The committee unanimously agreed on Laura so she and I sat down to discuss the vision, some of my expectations and various other pertinent topics,” VanLeer said. “I’m thrilled with the committee process and the input we received from the staff. The approach was very professional and I’m pleased with the outcome.

“I look forward to working with Laura in this capacity,” she added. “She is a nice blend of familiarity and progressive thinking.”

School officials will now turn their attention to hiring an associate principal.

“Laura and I will be working on posting the position, setting up a time line and putting together an interview team for her replacement,” Franssen said. “The position will be posted before the winter break.”

Bruckerhoff’s compensation will be $105,658.

Bruckerhoff introduced herself as the incoming principal in a letter sent out Thursday to parents of current sixth- and seventh-grade students in the district.

“As the current associate principal, I am familiar with our school and the direction we would like to see it go,” she stated. “I am honored to have this opportunity, as we work to maintain and continuously improve the high standard of education for our students.

“Along with the teachers and staff, I will work hard to improve the high level of success that has already been established here,” she added. “My desire is to build strong relationships with parents, students and community partners. We will continue to focus on positive behavior supports, college and career pathway exploration, employable skills that prepare our students for the real world, and increased achievement at all levels.”

Bruckerhoff, who has been with the district 21 years, will complete her Educational Specialist Degree in May of 2019. She earned a master’s degree from Southwest Baptist University, a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College and her associate degree from East Central College.

Millheiser has been middle school principal for five years and was co-principal for seven years before that.