New Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer works 27 miles away from where she served as an assistant principal last year, but the difference in her job descriptions might be even greater.
“I was an assistant principal at Cocoa High,” Halbuer said. “The big difference is I’m doing a different role. I was doing middle-school curriculum and ninth-to- 10th grade discipline at Cocoa High. Here I’m doing facilities, so I’m learning a lot about what that entails because I’ve never had the facilities experience.”
Fleming has no doubt Halbuer will excel in her new role.
“She is extremely hard working, very conscientious and pays attention to detail. [She is] very strict but very fair in terms of [being an] administrator. She’s just very, very good, and we’re happy to have her.”
But getting Halbuer to West Shore wasn’t easy.
“The difficulty we had was that she was running summer school at Cocoa High,” Fleming said. “[Former Assistant Principal Rob] Farrell had to leave rather suddenly at the end of the school year, so I was without an assistant principal for the entire month of July. Once we got her on board, it was a huge learning curve. But it was a nice process because Ms. Halbuer and I worked together about 15 years ago.”
Halbuer said the faculty has made a strong first impression.
“The teachers in this building are phenomenal,” she said. “They are so invested in [students]; it is so energizing to me. I’ve always seen my role as the assistant principal to help the teachers —what do [they] need to do [their] job — I’m here for support.”
History teacher Kirk Murphy has witnessed Halbuer’s efforts first-hand.
“She’s been helpful for me,” Murphy said. “She’s been helping me hunt down books for Advanced Placement, and she’s trying to get the air-conditioning cooler in my room.”
And Halbuer has made a strong first impression on senior Daphna Krause.
“I think that being so new here that she’s been doing a great job with her duties,” Krause said. “I know that I was hanging up a poster outside, and she came up and asked me if they’d been approved. Yes, they were approved but, I mean, that kind of detail is something that can cause a bigger problem like the auditorium to be solved faster when you get the little things out of the way.”
Halbuer is still adapting to the ways of Wildcat Nation.
“Right now at Cocoa high, there’s a lot of focus with football because football seasons coming up,” Halbuer said. “Here we just have our ‘undefeated’ football team so, you know, we’ve got other focuses here. It’s a smaller campus. [Cocoa High’s] campus is 66 acres and here, we’re in a much more intimate [setting]. There’s, you know, about 700 fewer kids here, so there’s some big differences in that way. I love our kids here already; I just don’t know everyone’s name yet.”
Fleming has witnessed Halbuer adjust to the culture change.
“I think she is amazed,” Fleming said. “When you look at our school from the outside looking in, they just see a school and they think ‘OK, they got all the top kids, so that’s why they’re first in everything.’ When nothing further from the truth is the reality here where we just simply have kids that are on grade level who want to push themselves. So she’s amazed at the culture of our school that everyone is hard-working, they’re committed, they’re highly functioning in terms of their academic ability, but equally as impressive as that is their affability and their approachability and their genuine care for one another and their school. She says you just don’t see that everywhere. She’s just not used to that, and so she’s been amazed at the high-level culture we have here.”
Halbuer has big plans for the near future.
“We just had the solar array put in,” Halbuer said. “I’m going to be focusing on trying to get furniture to go underneath that and getting teachers trained so we can start even having some classes under there and learning about it. I also have some long-term goals, I just don’t know how soon they’ll materialize.”