The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

The Student news source for West Shore Junior/Senior High School

The Roar

Full circle

Retiring assistant principal reflects on her long BPS career
Dean Stewart Photography
Assistant Principal Mrs. Halbuer (left) passes the torch to her successor Ms. Perry (right) as a new era dawns at West Shore. “I want to be a part of the enriching experiences that are a staple of the West Shore culture,” said Perry
Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer works in her office.

When the final bell rings this year, it will signal the end of an era as Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer trades in her walkie-talkie for a life of relaxation in Key West. After nearly a decade spent maintaining order over hallways and classrooms, the longtime administrator is retiring. Her career journey took her through roles as a dean, curriculum specialist, principal and assistant principal across Brevard County Schools.

Halbuer’s ties to West Shore date back before she began working there.

“Before I even came to West Shore, when I was at Merritt Island High, I would come down here and judge Senior Projects with [then-Assistant Principal Claudia] Shirley,” Halbuer said. “It’s been very sweet because when I moved to the county, this was Central Middle School and I started off as a substitute teacher in this building. It touches my heart that I finished my career at such an incredible school. It feels like a full circle.”

Rockledge High School administrator Sarah Perry, who will succeed Halbuer as assistant principal, appears well-prepared for the transition.

“I have been in education for 20 years,” Perry said. “I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership.  I taught math for most of my career until I went into leadership.  I was Assistant Principal at Rockledge where I implemented district policies on code of conduct and discipline. I implemented the PBIS positive behavior plan that included weekly recognition of students, faculty and staff.  I partner with parents, teachers, guidance counselors and students to improve their school experience and help to resolve problems.”

The transition to Perry has caused Halbuer to reflect on her own transition to West Shore nine years ago.

“My biggest challenge was the adjustment of going from a school that had very strict discipline to a school where you could work together,” Halbuer said. “Here, we’re able to be proactive before we get to anything where it would necessitate a discipline referral or anything, where at other schools, you don’t have that time to interact and say ‘hey, what’s going on?'”

Halbuer said her career has been punctuated by moments that remind her why she chose this path.

“One of my most memorable moments throughout my career in administration was when I was at Merritt Island High School. There was a young man that was struggling getting to school so I had to talk with him and it turned out he didn’t know he could get a bus. He was walking five miles to school every day. I was able to get him a bus pass and on a bus the next day. Well, at graduation he came running up and gave me a hug because he was the first one in his family to graduate from high school, and he couldn’t have done it without that bus ride to school every day. That was really impactful for me.

Junior Tanisha Bertilien said she has appreciated the work Halbuer has done on campus.

“She didn’t only act a certain way to certain students, she made sure all the rules applied to all students regardless,” Bertilien said. “I think what made her good was that she was straightforward and very observant. She took her role very serious. Her presence will be missed at this school because she made the student body more well-rounded and made sure rules were enforced.

Halbuer points to several key achievements she takes pride in.

“My big accomplishments at this school were putting the chiller in, the concession stand, getting our press box, and the spalling construction, which is expected to finish over the summer since they have to paint all the walkways”

As Perry prepares to join the Wildcat Nation, her priority is to connect with the entire school.

“My first goal is to get to know everyone on campus,” Perry said. “I want to get to know the teachers and their approaches to sharing their expertise in their subject areas.  I will get to know all of the support staff and the roles that they play in making West Shore successful. I plan on working to help each student and teacher connect with their peers and a trusted mentor on campus.”

Perry describes her leadership style as one focused on relationship-building and individual growth.

“I build relationships through asking questions and listening,” Perry said. “I want to build a positive rapport through mutual trust and respect.  I have a coaching approach to leadership and love to help nurture individuals to grow.  I am consistent, a listener and I work to show that I genuinely care for individuals and their learning.”

As Halbuer prepares to pass the torch, she offers her successor advice.

“Trust your heart,” she said. “Enjoy your journey. Everybody’s here to support you, as well as you support them. It’s a true team, family atmosphere.”

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About the Contributor
Mariam Hassan
Mariam Hassan, Staff Writer
I'm a junior, and this is my first year on staff. During my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, enjoying beautiful sunsets, and working inside a 20-foot ice cream cone. I'm looking forward to writing and sharing stories with our school community.