Changing position

Shaking it up


Darby Wright

Students of course know who this man is, Dr. Eric Knost, but they don’t know all the people that he works along side with.

The hierarchy beyond the high school’s walls is a mystery to students.

A new face will join the district decision makers, filling a vacancy, July 1. This new face will also have a district new title.

“I had no idea that was happening,” Katherine Campbell (12) said.

District leadership determines what principals do in the buildings. Even though students may not feel directly impacted by these people, they do affect students’ daily lives even though students don’t necessarily know their names or what they look like.

Superintendent Eric Knost’s cabinet is currently made of six people who oversee the rest of the district’s people and resources. With the hiring of Dr. Lisa Counts, assistant superintendent of supervision of schools, Dr. Knost’s cabinet grows to seven.

Dr. James Wipke, executive director of secondary education, is leaving the district to become the superintendent of the Fox School District.

“I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s not that I wasn’t happy with Rockwood because I’ve been in Rockwood for 22 years and am incredibly happy,” Dr. Wipke said. “I feel very, very fortunate that I got to spend so many years at Rockwood.”

Dr. Counts is currently the assistant superintendent of supervision of schools for the Mehlville School District and worked closely the past eight years with Dr. Knost when he was the superintendent of Mehlville.

“I’m excited to come to the district and work with him again,” Dr. Counts said. “There were just some facets of this job that are different from my current role, so I was excited for some new challenges and new opportunities in Rockwood.”

Dr. Counts’ new responsibilities will include supervising all schools, checking in on the principals and the student body, in the district and running discipline hearings, according to Dr. Count.

Discipline hearings determine if students should receive an out-of-school suspension longer than 10 days, which can’t be done at the building level.

Along with the responsibilities of her new position, Dr. Counts will also face some challenges.

Rockwood services the needs of nearly 22,000 students, while Mehlville only services 11,000. In smaller terms, Rockwood has four high schools, while Mehlville has two.

“Rockwood is a larger district than Mehlville, so there are more buildings and more people to get to know,” Dr. Counts said. “Learning about the goals, vision and mission of the Rockwood School District and becoming a part of those traditions and bringing my experience to the role will also be a challenge.”

Students may not necessarily notice huge changes even though someone new will be making decisions with Dr. Knost.

“We will have to wait and see what happens when she takes the position and whether or not she continues Dr. Wipke’s policies and programs or if she initiates some of her own,” Mrs. Madeline Kennedy, social studies teacher, said.

Some of the BOE policies that Dr. Wipke implemented did directly impact students. For example, during Dr. Wipke’s tenure, the district eliminated quarter grades at the high school level. He also oversaw the Best Grading Practices Committee since 2012 where he worked with teachers to implement board Regulation 6450.

Although students won’t notice all the changes, they will be affected.

“It will affect the school because it’s a different person,” Hayley Krey (9) said. “They probably have different ideas, so things might change for the better or for the worse.”

Change is inevitable. Hopefully, Dr. Counts contributions will bring positive revisions to the district.

“Hopefully whoever comes in as Asher’s boss will have a good plan and process, and they will move forward and do things similar to how they are now,” Mrs. Julie Montgomery, American Sign Language teacher, said. “If improvements need to be made or changes need to be made they will work together and make things happen.”

Making sure all schools are working together and staying on the same page is something important Dr. Counts is in charge of.

“I hope whoever is coming in can do a good job and find where all the schools are on the same playing field,” Mr. Michael Pettigrew, math teacher, said.

If the schools are all in sync, things should run smoothly because they will be working together, minimizing discrepancies.

“I really don’t think it is going to affect the school that much,” Jon Shryock (10) said. “If anything it will bring some new ideas to Rockwood. It probably will be for the better.”

Although the changes may be slow and otherwise unnoticeable, Dr. Counts’ involvement in the district could potentially shake things up.

“I’m happy to welcome new people to Rockwood,” Ashlyn Koob (10) said. “And I think it will be nice to have new creative change.”

It is probable that students will feel very little of the changes occurring in the district when Dr. Counts comes in.

“I’m not sure that it’s going to have much impact on what we do,” Mrs. Deborah Asher, head principal, said. “So I think that we will just continue doing what we have been doing.”