July 15, 2008

Teacher Takes ‘Big Step’ As Principal

By Kristin Edwards, The Huntsville Item, Texas

Jul. 15--After spending 19 years teaching at Scott Johnson Elementary, Kristie Pacher decided to try something completely different -- and so far, she loves it.

Pacher made the transition from teaching kindergarten to working as the principal of Faith Lutheran School, and while the job holds several dramatic differences, Pacher said she feels blessed to be in her current position.

"I love this -- administration is something I always wanted to do, and this has been a great experience for me so far," she said. "It's definitely a big step."

As of June 18, Pacher took over the role of principal from Dee Dee Dretke, who is retiring in August after holding the position for five years.

When Dretke announced her impending retirement, the school formed a transition committee to select a new principal, and the Faith Lutheran School board unanimously voted to hire Pacher as the new principal in February.

"I was already a member of the church here when I learned that the position was going to be opening," Pacher said. "I just turned the whole thing over to God, and He just opened door after door for me. I interviewed for the position, then I was offered the job, and it has just been non-stop ever since."

According to a letter sent to Faith Lutheran School parents, Pacher served on several school committees during her time as a kindergarten teacher, and she also worked as the Scott Johnson Elementary department chair.

"I've been blessed to be given leadership roles in the past, and I felt like that experience would help me in this role," she said. "Also, I'm lucky to be working with such a talented, dedicated staff at this school."

A different world

In the time she has been at Faith Lutheran School, Pacher said she has noticed a handful of stark differences in her new environment as compared to a public school setting.

The first and most obvious difference Pacher noted is the freedom to discuss religion throughout the school day.

From the presence of biblical verses on the walls of the school to the use of parables in the classroom, Pacher said the religious aspect is much more predominant than it could have been in a public school.

"You can talk about God here, and that's very different from my experience in the public school system," she said. "Through our religious curriculum, in which Bible stories are emphasized during the week, we're able to provide our students with good, Christian teachings."

The size of Faith Lutheran School has also required positive adjustment on Pacher's part.

"There were about 600 students at Scott Johnson, but our summer enrollment is right at 140 students, and I anticipate enrollment in the fall to be about the same," she said. "I think our small class sizes is just one of the things that makes Faith Lutheran stand out.

"We don't aspire to become a large school because we want to be able to focus on individual students and further them in all aspects."

Personally, Pacher has devoted herself to putting in more than a full-time load of hours at her new job -- she said she has worked well over 40 hours a week since starting as principal.

"It's always busy here, and there are always things to be done," she said. "When you're dealing with children, they come first, and I'm just loving this experience."

Faith Lutheran School, which accepts students from six-weeks to second-grade, was accredited by the Texas Education Agency in 2006.

For more information, contact Pacher at (936) 291-1706.


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