Kristie Reighard is Delta High School’s new principal by design.
“I wanted to go back to a small community school, where the community was an integral part of the educational system,” she said.
The 43-year-old Rossford, Ohio, native was appointed to the position in March at the district’s Board of Education meeting. As someone who grew up in a small-town atmosphere, the first day of school Aug. 17 will be like coming home again.
“I wanted a school building I could be in where I could know every student, because relationships are the key to education,” Reighard said. “We’re here to teach lifelong skills, and that’s important.”
It’s her first role as an administrator, and she does admit to some stomach butterflies. But they’re not caused by the students or faculty.
“My anxiousness is coming from all the little bits and pieces that no one can teach you. And I think that’s really natural,” she said. “But everybody is this community, everybody I’ve met so far, has been amazing. It has been a welcoming experience.”
In fact, the high school faculty members threw a picnic especially to welcome Reighard to the school district and to the community.
She enters the position with no agenda, but said changes will eventually come where needed. “What they are doing out here is working pretty well, so it’s going to be more of a tweaking as we go along. First, I want to see how things run and how they’re done,” she said.
Reighard expressed her admiration for the high school faculty “and their dedication to students, to the content, and to (continued) learning as educators.”
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in both Environmental and Hazardous Materials Management and Journalism. She added a teaching certificate and a Masters in Education in Curriculum Instruction, and an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development.
Reighard’s first teaching position was as a science instructor at Bowling Green High School from 2000 to 2008. For the past eight years she has taught science at Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, Ohio, where she also coordinated the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Camp for middle school students.
One of Reighard’s top priorities will be to ensure that DHS courses are aligned with state regulations, and that students are learning the content. However, she always has the students’ well-being first in mind.
“We want those test scores absolutely as good as we can get them. But it comes down to educating students for life. The focus in the building will always come back to what’s good for the students,” she said. “I have some ideas, but I have to get a feel for what’s going on. And they’ll have to be student-driven.”
To that end, Reighard will help launch High Schools That Work (HSTW), a national improvement initiative for high school administrators and teachers that is currently used in 30 states. According to the HSTW website, the initiatives goals and key practices are used to raise student achievement and graduation rates.
The former DHS and DMS principals showed interest in the program last year. Andrea Johnson, the school’s new Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Communication, put the middle school principal and Reighard in touch with the HSTW representative.
HSTW is data-driven, will decide the best process for the high school, and allows for a look at long-term, continuous improvement, Reighard said.
“The impact will reach all teachers and students,” Reighard said.
She will also reach students and their parents with an open-door policy and lots of area participation. “I plan to be very visible in the community, in the district, and in the school. That’s where those relationships are built,” she said.
Pike-Delta-York Superintendent Ted Haselman said is was apparent that Reighard was the best of the 24 applicants for the position.
“Mrs. Reighard will bring enthusiasm and a very strong work ethic to Delta High School,” he said. “She is knowledgable and her experience is multidimensional…Her leadership experience is unique as well…I am very excited to see Kristie have an opportunity to improve the education and opportunities of our Pike-Delta-York students. Her dedication to continuous improvement has already been seen in the short time she has been working in the district.”
In her leisure, Reighard is an avid reader of fiction and loves the outdoors, where she and her husband Greg enjoy gardening. “Being outside is my focusing place, my re-purposing place,” she said.
She also enjoys cooking and baking; her specialties are muffins and cheesecakes.
Reighard said she’s ready for small-town life again.
“I’m just really excited to be here. Wonderful things are going to happen at Pike -Delta-York schools,” she said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.