PIQUA — New faces and new roles emerged this year at Piqua Catholic as the school welcomed a new principal at their North Street campus and found ways for one administrator to use more of her gifts at their Downing Street campus.
New principal welcomed
Bradley Zimmerman, of Piqua, is the new principal at Piqua Catholic, moving back to the area to take the position after he and his wife, Christina, were looking for a change after living in Columbus.
“We just wanted to move to a small town,” Zimmerman said.
While his wife is from Piqua, Zimmerman grew up in Sidney, attending Holy Angels Catholic School and graduating from Lehman Catholic High School in 2005.
After that, Zimmerman graduated from The Ohio State University in 2004 with an undergraduate degree in education and human ecology. Zimmerman then earned his master’s degree in administration at Concordia University.
Zimmerman reached out to Father Tom Bolte of St. Mary’s and St. Boniface Catholic Churches to see if there were opportunities in the area. Prior to taking on this position, Zimmerman taught seventh grade math and eighth grade English and writing at Holy Angels Catholic School.
In assuming this new role, Zimmerman feels like he has reached where he is meant to be.
“I love it,” Zimmerman said. “I feel like this is my calling. It feels like home.”
Zimmerman has enjoyed working with the faculty and staff at the school. along with those in the local Catholic community.
“My staff is wonderful,” Zimmerman said. “Father Bolte has been an awesome boss.”
Moving forward, Zimmerman is focused on meeting the needs of students, staff, and parents, which means getting to know everyone.
“My goal for year one is to build relationships,” Zimmerman said, adding, “The kids come from wonderful families, supportive families.”
Zimmerman has found that the students are excited about learning, and he is looking to build upon that with new programs that promote positive actions as well as more learning opportunities.
“I started a positive behavior system here where we use (what) we call ‘Cav Cash,’” Zimmerman said.
“Cav Cash” is a system of fake money that students can use to get items from the school’s Cavs store, which includes various toys and tickets. The students earn this fake money through positive Christian actions and words.
Other new programs at the school include Spanish enrichment classes, along with an after-school STEM program where students are able to learn about things like robotics and coding.
Zimmerman and his wife have three children, Charlie, 4, Amelia, 2, and George, 1.
Supporting an early education
Over at the school’s Downing Street campus, Erin Luring, director of the Center for Early Learning, has taken on the role of lead pre-kindergarten teacher as well.
“That’s kind of where my passion lies, in the classroom,” Luring said.
Luring is currently in graduate school at the University of Dayton to earn her master’s degree in early childhood education. She earned her undergraduate degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Luring lived in Chicago for five years. Her interest in teaching remained in the back of her mind and became something she explored more as she took on jobs at childcare centers.
“I felt called to go a different direction,” Luring said.
Luring, a Troy native, then learned about the open director position at Piqua Catholic’s Center for Early Learning. Building upon her director role at the center, she has now taken up teaching.
“I feel like that’s where I make the most impact,” Luring said about being in the classroom.
The center has six other staff members and approximately 53 kids who attend pre-kindergarten or pre-school classes. This is the fifth year the center has been open and the highest enrollment they have had.
Luring’s goal is to create a “fun but engaging” learning environment for the kids. “I think there’s a lot of pressure … to grow up too fast,” Luring said. She hopes to give kids the tools to learn in a natural way.
“They love to learn,” Luring said. “I like to keep it that way.”
In addition to usual pre-school lessons, Luring hopes to promote social and emotional skills, teaching kids about their importance and worth. “It’s so important for me to be the best teacher I possibly can,” she said.
Luring added later, “I love my job. I love what I do. I love this field.”
The center has been making additions and improvements to the campus, including building a garden, adding on to the playground, and completing a renovation for the exercise room.
“It’s really been growing in a healthy way,” Luring said.
The center also has Ohio Child Care Assistance Title XX available, Luring said. She explained that if parents cannot afford the tuition to send their children to the center, they can apply for state funding.
“We can include everyone,” Luring said.
She also commended the support that the center has received from the local community, adding that parents are seeing the value of early childhood education.
“I’m so proud to be working here,” she said. “I know that it has a really good future.”
Luring and her husband, Andrew, were married in September, and they have two cats, London and Artemis.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336