By Sharon Semanie
For the Daily Call
PIQUA — Forget the suggestion that it’s impossible to do two jobs at once. Georgia Hersteinstein, newly hired principal at Piqua Catholic School, could easily dispute that statement judging by the whirlwind schedule she’s undertaken in recent months.
Although she “officially” beginning her duties July 1, the energetic Hertenstein reported to duty long before the appointed date. An intervention specialist for the past eight years at both Minster High School and Minster Junior High School, the new principal worked simultaneously in Minster during day hours and traveled to Piqua evenings prior to the end of the last year because “there was lots of stuff that needed to be done (here) and I wanted to become familiar with the school, students and community before actually getting started.”
Described as a “go-getter” and “very much a leader” by her former employer and coworkers, Hertenstein has wasted no time getting acclimated to her new Piqua surroundings. “Since arriving here, I’ve taken a good look at state standards and the math curriculum for starters,” she began. “I also looked at data given to me by PCS teachers and test scores to determine where we stand and develop a plan to move PCS forward academically.”
In assessing her new environs, Hertenstein observed “There are both weaknesses and strengths that we, at Piqua Catholic, need to focus on. Like every other year, this year will present us with challenges but I have a strong staff willing to accept those challenges and do whatever is needed to help our children.”
Her staff includes newcomers Heather Lewis, kindergarten; Jessica Feltz, third grade; Russell Kill, science, algebra, foreign language and eighth grade religion; Michelle Voress, reading, language arts, socials studies and technology; and Kate Roberts, intervention specialist for the Miami County Educational Services Center. All teaching staff will report for in-service Aug. 14. An open house is scheduled from 1-7 p.m. Aug. 18, with doors opening for the first day of school Aug. 19.
Born in Minster, Hertenstein is the oldest of three siblings born to Fred and Margaret Meyer, owners of the Wooden Shoe Inn. “I worked in the family business for 25 years before I began teaching,” she paused, adding her background in education also included working in Greenville.
“I started out as an art major after high school,” noted Hertenstein, “but later in life went back to school at 30 years of age because I saw my own kids struggle (in school). They were high-strung, had difficulty focusing in school and were hyperactive. I worked with great teachers at Minster and thought that perhaps I could make a difference as a teacher.”
Her aspiration to teach also grew out of her love for books. An avid reader and history buff, she enjoys “everything” from young adult books and historical fiction to books focusing on World War II and President Abraham Lincoln. In addition, she enjoys golfing and working in her yard as well as “spending time with family, watching my nephews play baseball and both nieces and nephews swim competitively.”
Hertenstein describes time spent here as “challenging” and quickly suggests work has been very rewarding. “There have been been many challenges but, as I meet each one, the rewards are extensive.” Her teaching style is “very hands on” and she enjoys providing students with “real world examples” and applications based upon what they are learning whether it’s geometry or science.
“I’ve always wanted to be part of a bigger picture versus being a teacher,” she continued “ and feel that my job as an administrator will enable me to accomplish that.” She has set an enrollment goal of 125 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and is “closing in” on that number thanks to tenacious efforts at making phone calls, mailing letters, appearing at church parishes and other events such as track meets, band concerts or Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.
In other words, she’s doing lots of “handshaking.” Hertenstein has also had an opportunity to work with Piqua City Schools Superintendent Rick Hanes, Roger Ely and Kim Piper “to try to ensure that we are working collaboratively for what is best for the community of Piqua.”
She firmly believes that “Piqua Catholic Schools provide an education centered around academic performance, a faith-based education and developing the child as a whole.” In addition, she believes small class sizes enable teachers to give more individual attention and that the school provides a sense of community for both students and families. Everyone, she adds, is welcome regardless of religious denomination.
During the forthcoming school year, she hopes to increase extracurricular activities, use benchmark testing in student data to drive instruction, provide activities that will build on Catholic identity, improve communication between parents and teachers and get students more involved in the community.