Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Superintendent talks first-year lessons

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 8/21/2013

WELLSVILLE — The 2012-2013 school year wasn’t just an education for students.

The past 12 months have been the biggest learning experience of Jerry Henn’s career.

WELLSVILLE — The 2012-2013 school year wasn’t just an education for students.

The past 12 months have been the biggest learning experience of Jerry Henn’s career.

“In my 30-plus years in education, it is the most learning that took place for me,” Henn, Wellsville school superintendent, said. “Basically, I learned how it all fits together from kindergarten to the senior class.”

The beginning of the school year marks Henn’s second year in the Wellsville school district, as well as his second year as a superintendent. Before coming to Wellsville, Henn was principal of Eudora Middle School for one year. He previously was a principal at Paola for 15 years and at Ellinwood for four years. He also was activity director at Ellinwood. Henn was a math teacher for nine years between Junction City High School, Ottawa High School and Highland Park High School in Topeka before his first principal job.

The biggest change at Wellsville, Henn said, has been taking on a more administrative role than he previously experienced.

“I was always a principal that was hands-on and always in the classroom,” he said. “That is the part that I miss the most. That was a big change for me. It is about the kids, and that is the whole thing that I truly believe in.”

‘You do what they do’

His first year as a superintendent included focus on the Wellsville school district’s goals, he said.

“The main focus is the Common Core curriculum,” Henn said. “I’m excited about that opportunity. Setting the goals in the mission statement with the [Wellsville board of education] for the district was huge.”

Aside from Common Core, Henn also played a big role in preparing the school district’s 2014 proposed budget, as well as helping to refine several district policies.

Henn said he has made many good relationships in his first year and does his best to be actively involved wherever he can.

“I feel very comfortable with being in the teachers’ classrooms and in the buildings,” Henn said. “The students will stop and talk to me in the hallways.”

Henn also takes a technological approach to learning. With many new devices being used in schools, Henn implements some into his job to help him know more about how students learn today. Henn uses his Twitter account — @jerryhenn5 — to give announcements regarding schools within the district, as well as uses an iPad to give presentations in school board meetings.

“If you are about the kids, you do what they do,” Henn said. “They do Twitter, so that is how I continue to learn from them.”

Family life

Besides his life in education, Henn also said spending time with his family is important. He and his wife, Denise, have three children, Adam, 23, Abbey, 20, and Andrew, 18. Denise is a regional occupational therapist, Adam is a graduate of Ottawa University, Abbey is currently attending college and Andrew is a senior at Paola High School.

“It is very critical and crucial that we spend time together as a family,” Henn said. “It is important.”

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