By Dani Palmer The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — As the principal of two schools, Elisha Schlabach didn’t always get to spend as much time with kids and be as accessible to parents as she would have liked. But the administrator will be focusing on just St. Mary’s School in the fall as she departs from her role as the principal for both St. Mary’s and St. Ambrose.
Having served a year in the atypical role, she said she’s thankful for the experiences, both good and bad, as they’ve helped her “grow to become a better administrator.” The Herald Bulletin caught up with Schlabach at the end of the school year to chat about the job.
How did you balance going between two schools?
Making sure the students are taken care of is my number one priority. Both schools are different and both schools have different needs.
So to say ‘this is the day I will be here’ and ‘this is the day I intend to be there’ — it didn’t always work out that way because something would happen and I needed to attend to a student or attend to a teacher’s needs.
Sometimes I would find myself back and forth between the schools two to three times a day.
What was the biggest reward of your job?
I think the biggest reward this year has been, well, obviously getting to serve more students.
You know, if I were at one school then I would have (for example) 100 students at St. Ambrose. I could have had a great year with 100 students and touched their lives in some way. With 200 students at St. Mary’s, I could have had a year just here and touch 200 students’ lives in some way or another.
I have been able to touch the lives of 300 students and provide 300 students with a quality Catholic education. ... All the joy you have at being at one school and leading one school; I’ve had that times two.
What are some memories, some interactions with the students that really stick out?
At St. Ambrose we do birthday lunches on stage, and I always ate each month with the students — whoever had a birthday that month. They get a cupcake and we sing to them.
I always enjoy that because I get so little of that and that’s really what I love: time with the kids in the community.
What was the biggest focus for the schools this year (2012-13)?
As we went into the decision to bring both schools under the leadership of one, we also requested that we have a school study done. For both schools, to find out what’s the best move for moving forward.
So the focus was not really a year of a lot of change, it was a year of let’s get in and see what’s happening, what’s really working well at each school and what’s not working so well.
What was it like working with the staff of two schools?
The students and the staff of both schools have both been wonderful. I think one of the best things we have been able to do this year is bring both schools together and share resources and start to build relationships.
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