Berndt is new high, middle school principal

Culver Community High and Middle Schools will both have a new principal this fall, though for the first time in some years, it will be the same person...and he's a familiar face.
Brett Berndt was voted by the Culver Community School board at its May 19 meeting to transition from his position as dean of students for the high school only, to fulfill both the midddle and high school positions.

Culver Community Schools superintendent Dr. Vicki McGuire noted an assistant principal's position, which is combineed with the athletic director title, is currently being advertised.

Currently the athletic director position is a separate one, which for the past several years has been held by Andy Thomas, also the school's head football coach. Julie Berndt has been middle school principal in the few years since Monterey Elementary School -- where she had been principal -- closed its doors.

The model in place for this fall was the standard for the corporation for many years in the past, when a single principal oversaw both middle and high school (in those days, junior high and high school), with an assistant principal also acting as athletic director. In that sense, the future direction is that of the past, though McGuire points out that the middle and high school buildings will retain the separate status attained around a decade ago, when a separate gymnasium was built for the middle school and most classes were divided into two physical portions of the building.

McGuire attributed the reordering of positions to the need to shore up the corporation's budget, which has taken some major hits in recent years.

The changes are part of several planned changes in title and faculty makeup within the corporation, though McGuire declined to comment on specifics pending formalization by the board and various faculty members.

Berndt, who lives in the Culver area with his wife Andrea and two daughters, was recommended for the position by McGuire. He replaces longtime principal Albert Hanselman, who announced his resignation last month as well as announcing his acceptance as director of the area vocational cooperative, replacing Jerry Hollenbaugh (he will, in fact, work out of the Culver Comm. Schools administration building, across the street from his current office).

During the board meeting, McGuire said she was "excited" about the hire of Berndt, whom she called "an outstanding leader" and said would be "good for the community."

The school board members also congratulated Berndt.

"I am very thankful for the opportunity that has been given to me by Dr. McGuire and the Culver School Board," Berndt told The Culver Citizen. "I will work extremely hard and our staff will work extremely hard to continue to strive for excellence."

He acknowledged that taking on both the middle and high school will be a "huge challenge," but praised the "excellent staff, board, and administration" whom he said will be "up for it."

Berndt is in his 16th year with the school corporation, having spent 12 years as a 7th grade science teacher and three as dean of students, in addition to eight years as a head basketball coach and six as assistant.

Also bidding the corporation farewell was longtime corporation treasurer Tom Bendy, who is being replaced by Sherri Brightenbach (Bendy has taken a position with the John Glenn school system).

Other changes included the resignation of several faculty from coaching positions, including Gina Hierlmeyer, varsity girls basketball coach, Louis Posa (wrestling coach), Theresa Jacobson (softball and girls soccer), and Chad Hollenbaugh (boys track coach and assistant football coach). It was noted these reignations are in areas of coaching only, and not teaching.

McGuire told the Citizen all sports are planned to continue this fall, with different coaches in place.

The board also approved the cost of $125 for high school student textbooks, the same cost as last year.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 16.