The Peninsula School District hired Todd Hering as the new principal at Minter Creek Elementary School in July.
No stranger to PSD, with three children of his own attending schools in Gig Harbor, Hering said he is excited about his new position and working near his own neighborhood, only minutes away from his office. He previously worked in Mason County as an assistant principal, but when the local position opened up he was eager to apply. “I had heard wonderful things about the staff, about the students, the families, the community, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of,” he said.
Hering said he appreciates the strong sense of community on the Key Peninsula and the willingness of KP parents to play an active part in their children’s education. One of Hering’s examples is Watch D.O.G.S., a popular program where fathers and father-figures volunteer at the school to assist staff and provide positive role models for students. The acronym stands for “Dads of Great Students.”
“While there are hardships here for some, the thing I love about this community is that they rise above that and don’t use it as an excuse,” Hering said.
Although this will be Hering’s first time serving as a principal, he feels well prepared by his experience as an assistant principal and by the mentoring he has received in the academic community. “I’m fortunate to have a great staff; we have a great dean of students here, a great secretary and office manager––the staff is wonderful. That’s helped to make the transition smooth,” he said.
Another transition for Hering is going from middle to elementary school. While there are similarities in all schools, Hering said that elementary school puts more emphasis on growth. “The middle schoolers are a few years older and they’re going through huge changes, figuring out who they are, how they fit in the world, how they fit in with their peers. Elementary is more about developing the foundation so they can grow in a healthy way and make good choices,” he said. “It’s kind of the beginning steps of the development.”
Hering doesn’t plan to make any big changes right away, but said he wants to encourage “whole-child” education that focuses on social and emotional education as well as academics. Another priority is teaching adaptability and quick thinking, to help students respond to the changing world around them. “A lot of the jobs that are currently in our society aren’t going to be there by the time our students get out into the workforce,” Hering said. He wants to encourage children to ask questions and not become “stuck in a mindset.”
Many local schools are looking for space for an ever-increasing number of students, but Hering feels that his new school is well equipped for the short term. Minter Creek recently installed two new portables, which hold four new classrooms to help deal with growth in the area (“New Classrooms at Minter Creek Elementary,” KP News, May 2018). Hering said he believes that as the population grows, one of the best moves for schools is to continue investing in good teachers. “There’s nothing that will improve a student’s schooling more than having a high-quality teacher in their classroom,” he said.
Most of all, Hering is excited to see the school in session and begin meeting his students. “It’s odd walking up and down the hallways during the summer and not seeing students. Schools are meant to be vibrant and full of energy and that’s what the kids bring.”