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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2004

Ottawa Hills: 'Interim' dropped from principal's title

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The work won't be new for Katharine Hurst, but the word interim will be dropped now that she has been chosen as principal of Ottawa Hills junior/senior high schools.

Mrs. Hurst said it took a few days to stop smiling after she recently learned she will permanently have the position she has filled since the retirement of Jim Yockey at the end of last year.

She had been assistant principal at the school for 10 years and said there were no major surprises in taking over the top position at the school, but has enjoyed the change in focus.

As assistant principal, Mrs. Hurst was involved in disciplining students and also was charged with scheduling, the preparation of grade cards, and similar office-related tasks.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it," she said, but welcomes the opportunity to deal with a broader range of the student body and the community at large as principal.

Mrs. Hurst said that as principal have an open door for students.

Ottawa Hills is rated s an excellent school system, according to state standards, and Mrs. Hurst said there are no particular changes to be made.

The professional level of the staff and the involvement of parents in the education of their children are what makes the schools what they are, she said, and hopes to increase her involvement with both groups.

"I really like working with the community," she said, noting that she always contacted parents when informed of even the smallest infraction of school rules by one of the students.

As the mother of three, Mrs. Hurst said, "I always wanted to know if my children were having a problem.''

Mrs. Hurst began as a teacher of mathematics and computer science in the system in 1982, and in 1992 became assistant principal. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo in 1965.

She said the decision to leave the classroom was difficult, but the years in administration have been rewarding.

Although disciplining youngsters may not always be pleasant, she said there were many times when it could be rewarding.

Just letting the student explain a situation or perhaps talk about other problems that may have led to the trouble often led to broader solutions.

"They often thanked me and some come back after they've graduated," she said.

She said she views herself as a problem solver and intends to use those skills as principal.

"I look forward to getting to know more of the students and parents and intend to be out in the building much more," she said.

Although there may be no structural changes, Mrs. Hurst said she hopes to bring some students into the decision-making process on school issues.

She stressed that they may no get their way, but, "I've always listened to them and I've gotten good ideas from them she said."

Her pay has not yet been negotiated, according to Superintendent Gail Mirrow. Mr. Yockey was paid about $90,000 annually she said.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@toledoblade.com

or 419-724-6096.



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