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Job Sharing

Two middle school administrators take on high school principal duties

September 12, 2014

As the new school year begins in Webster City high school students are seeing some new faces in the teaching

staff as well as a couple familiar faces.

When the district was faced with two high school administration vacancies, they opted to hire a new assistant and bring in two experienced leaders to serve as co-principal. Becky hacker-Kluver, mid- dle school principal, and Kelli Reis, assistant middle school principal, will be shar- ing the high school duties this year, in addi- tion to their duties at the middle school.

Article Photos

Becky Hacker-Kluver and Kelli Reis

when the principal and assistant principal announced their resignations last spring, just days apart, that left the district scrambling to find new administrators. staffing the positions would require considering at a variety of options.

Even though it was late in the hiring season when the two resignations were received, SuperintendentMike Sherwood said the district was able to put together a pool of candidates for the assistant principal position.

"We were fortunate and pleased we were able to attract Jason Halverson."

However, the application pool for the principal position was not as deep as the district would have liked, he said.

"So, we talked about different options - an interim principal, other options within the district and continued discussions with the administrative team about what might work," he said.

By the time they worked through all the options, the co-principal idea seemed to be the best course. It was an unusual move, but one that sherwood said was a good fit.

"Becky and Kelli were willing to step up and take this on for one year," he said.

"That will give us an opportunity to get into the hiring season much earlier and hopefully gain a larger pool of applicants that we would be able to interview."

Sherwood said the two principals have many great qualifications that make them well-suited for the high school position.

"Both are very high energy, both are familiar with many of the students and families, and they also have the high school certification," he said. "they are also very familiar with the district and its programs. If we had brought in an interim principal, we would have been in a year in limbo."

Both educators have been with the district for many years. Hacker-Kluver started her career in education teaching at Algona and this is her 20th year with Webster City schools. She began as the curriculum director for the school district and worked in that position for four years and then was approached about serving as the middle school principal. She's been at the middle school for 16 years.

Reis has worked in the district for 19 years. She started out as a eighth grade science teacher for nine years, then began teaching math/science at the 7th and 8th grade levels. She taught middle school physical educa- tion for six or seven years.

Reis earned her masters degree in administration and in 2013 began her first year as assistant principal and activities director at the middle school.

Both said they plan to continue doing business as they have in the past.

"We stay fixed and focused on what we're doing. We really focus on what's best for the children."

While the administrators are accustomed to working with pre-teens and younger teens everyday, she said they are familiar with many of the students at the high school. Hacker-Kluver and Reis have seen most of the now high school students progress through the lower grades.

What are the differences between middle school and high school students?

"Size," said Reis. "It's amazing how much some of them have grown.

"We're finding that the kids are very respectful and polite to everyone. We're finding that it doesn't matter if it's middle school or high school, they're just good kids."

Hacker-Kluver said another difference is the fact that the high school kids are now driving.

"They're mobile now," she said. "At the middle school, we have bus duty. At the high

school, there's parking lot duty."

"There's kind of different mind set between the two buildings. The seniors are thinking about their futures and life beyond their high school classroom. The middle schoolers are just thinking about getting to high school," Reis said.

There are other things that differ, of course, as the students mature and progress through the grade levels. There's college courses offered both at the school and at Iowa Central campuses in Webster City and Fort Dodge. The students are on the move, learning in many different ways, at many different venues.

"Here at the middle school, the kids are kind of contained. At the high school we're working with many different schedules and seeing kids come and go, back and forth," Hacker-Kluver said. "So we have to be kind of flexible and open-minded at the high school."

There are endless possibilities for students at the high school, Hacker-Kluver said, both academically and extra-curricular activities.

"The kids have so many opportunities with the college classes and the regional academies," she said. "And in the extra-curriculars, there's sports, music, fine arts and the many different clubs."

So how does the time-shared position work?

The administrators decided the shared position would work best if they worked half-days at the middle school and the other half at the high school.

"So we meet the night before, look at the schedules and decide who's going to take the morning shift at the high school and who will take the afternoon," Hacker-Kluver said. "We're both in both places each day because we want to stay connected to both buildings."

"Sometimes we meet at the door coming and going and have a conversation there," she


Reis said the two visit each morning when they arrive and in the late afternoon before leaving for the day.

The administrators said they could never do the job without the help of staff at the high school and middle school. Hacker-Kluver and Reis credited those people, as well as other administrators who have stepped up to assist with various roles.

"Everybody is open-minded and we're a team, a family," said Reis. "We're a true PLC - a professional learning community and we're a team."

Hacker-Kluver said the teachers at both buildings have been very receptive and have come forward to help with various leadership activities and other tasks. She added that Halverson, even though new to the district, has jumped into his new role.

"Mr. Halverson is fabulous. He's only been here a short time, but it's like he's already a member of the family," Reis said.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect for the two administrators is balancing their time and defining what the prior ities are.

"It's really the coordination of schedules and what the needsare now and thinking far enough in advanceso we can plan and have it ready for both staff and students," Reis said.

"And keeping the communicationgoing," Hacker-Kluver said.

Sherwood said that while both principals may have had a bit of apprehension at the start of the school year, everything seems to be running smoothly.

"I'm hearing very positive reports from the staff and students," Sherwood said.

"It's a major undertaking and I have to commend both Becky and Kelly for taking it on," he said.



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