Shepherd tackles role of GHS principal

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Greencastle School Board member Mike Dean chats with Jennifer Shepherd last week, shortly after Shepherd was named Greencastle's next principal.

An ex-drama teacher's next role will be as the Greencastle High School principal.

Jennifer Shepherd will bring more than two decades of teaching and administrative experience to GHS when school opens in August.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," Shepherd said. "I think there are some exciting things that can happen at Greencastle High School. I'm looking to inspire staff and students to create school spirit, sense of pride, and carry that momentum through to our academics."

Shepherd has spent her entire education career in the northern Indiana communities of Warsaw and Rochester.

She spent 10 years as a drama and English teacher at Warsaw Community High School before her first administrative opportunity took her to her alma mater, Rochester High School, in 2000.

After two years as Rochester assistant principal, Shepherd returned to Warsaw as an assistant principal, a position she has held for the last decade.

In Greencastle, Shepherd said she saw not only an opportunity to become a principal, but a town and school district that reminded her of somewhere she feels at home.

"When I saw Greencastle, it reminded me of the school district that I was in for two years in my first experience as an administrator (Rochester), which happened to be my high school," she said. "It was about the same size. The community's very similar."

The new challenge of leading a school was obviously also an attraction to the job.

"I'm ready to branch out and be a leader and make a difference," Shepher said. "I've enjoyed my experience as an assistant principal. I've had the great opportunities at Warsaw to learn a lot of things and great opportunities at Rochester.

"I'm ready to have an impact. When I came to Greencastle for the first interview, I left feeling like this is where I need to be. I felt a connection. The people were very gracious and kind and hospitable. It was just a good interview."

These positive did not wane on subsequent interviews.

"When I came for the second one, I left feeling the same way, that I think this is where I need to be. It was just sort of a calm. I thought, I hope I get this job because I think this will be a good thing for me and for them," Shepherd said.

She freely acknowledged the challenges inherent to any education position considering the current climate of public education in Indiana.

"In the state of Indiana in general, teachers are struggling with the new evaluation system and morale," Shepher said. "I hope to bring enthusiasm to improving morale and helping teachers feel good about what they are doing and knowing that's valuable, because it is."

As a principal, Shepherd hopes to bring positivity into this atmosphere.

"I got the impression at the high school and at the middle school that Greencastle has a strong academic faculty and staff. They are on board to do what they need to do for students, in that they are very dedicated and willing," she said. "I think they are looking for some leadership to guide them and that reinforcement that, 'You are a good teacher and you are doing great things for kids' -- sort of build that momentum."

Beyond the school staff, the new principal hopes to use the resources of the entire community, including DePauw University.

"I love opportunities for students to take college classes, especially our higher level kids," Shepherd said. "I like the opportunities that I think exist that we could get some college students involved in helping some of our at risk kids. I know they're starting a mentoring program."

The mentoring may not simply stop at the high school level, though.

"It sort of keeps trickling down," Shepherd said. "Hopefully the students who get that experience feel like they can turn around at some point and maybe we need to look at doing our mentoring from our high school kids to our elementary kids."

More than just DePauw, Shepherd plans for the high school to look for connections and opportunities throughout the Greencastle community.

"I'd love to get the community involved more in the high school, too," she said. "Maybe we have community members that would be willing to set up some time and come in tutor or help kids with some things they need help on.

"I want the community to be involved. I welcome any parent or anybody to come into the school at any time."

Shepherd will officially take over as GHS principal on July 1.

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  • Best of luck to you.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Thu, Apr 19, 2012, at 9:28 PM
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