Eric Messer served as principal of Western Row Elementary and Mason Heights Elementary this past school year. It marked the first time in Mason Schools' history a single principal has been in charge of two school buildings. The Enquirer/Cara Owsley
Paul McKibben reports:
This school year, Eric Messer served as principal of two elementary schools in the Mason City School District.
Messer led Mason Heights and Western Row elementaries. Before this school year, he was principal at Mason Heights. Next year, he’ll be the principal at Western Row as the district is closing Mason Heights. This school year, Mason Heights and Western Row had the entire district’s second and third grades. He maintains offices at both schools.
The father of three children grew up in the Columbus suburb of Reynoldsburg. His bachelor’s degree is from Miami University and he earned a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. He’s been with the Mason district for 15 years. He previously taught fifth grade and served as an assistant principal at Mason Intermediate School.
Messer, 38, answered Five Questions about the past school year and how he’s managed to juggle both jobs.
What’s the past school year been like as you’ve been managing both schools?
It’s been busy. You are in and out of a lot of meetings. You have a lot more responsibilities. It’s just been trying to manage time that has been the most difficult thing. I like to be with kids and be around the kids and you just got to make time to make sure you can still do those things. I can sit in meetings all day long but that’s not me.
What’s been the most hectic day for you this past school year?
There was one day I think I traveled back and forth three or four times. It might have been KISS (Kids Invite Someone Special) Day and what happened was KISS Day for Western Row and KISS Day at Mason Heights were on the same day. So I was going back and forth trying to make sure I was visible in both buildings. And also my two sons go (to Mason Heights) so I wanted to make sure they had their person here. Their grandma was coming in. Of course the opening day was hectic because you wanted to be in both buildings and make sure you’re visible and go over rules with kids.
Have the two schools worked together at all this past school year?
The schools are very similar. The (parent teacher organizations) have met and done some things together and have been doing some planning together. Our curriculum coordinators have met with both. I’ll meet with my reading teachers (at Mason Heights) and I’ll meet with the reading teachers at Western Row and we’ll kind of talk about ‘Hey this is what they talked about doing. What do you like? Do you like those ideas? And you know what, let’s take the good and bad from both and kind of combine them.” I have probably facilitated more of that. But there’s been more communication because I have both.
Is there anything that parents should be doing academically with their elementary-aged children during summer break?
Read. Read, read, read. Parents will say “My kid’s reading a lot.” Are they reading to you? Are they reading out loud? I have three kids and they could sit and read a page and they could skip words and they keep going. They read out loud though, you’re catching all those things and you’re hearing those things. Also, if they’re reading out loud you can ask them questions. They can read a whole page and you say “OK, what happened on that page? What happened to that character?” And you can get some dialogue with them and ask them questions. They do partner reading where you read a page and they read a page because at that point you’re modeling for them. You’re showing them what a good reader does with the influx of your voice and different things where you pause and don’t pause. For me with math, it’s practicing those addition and subtraction facts. It’s practicing multiplication facts and just continue to work on problem solving.
What was your favorite subject in school and why?
My favorite subject in school was math. I always loved numbers. I loved solving problems. I loved calculating problems. I always liked to do it in different ways. I actually went to college originally to be a high school math teacher. And then I was taking math 421, 441 and calculus 3 and I was like “OK, not.” At Miami, even if you were a high school major, you still had to do experiences in all the grade levels. And my adviser said, “You know I watched you with those elementary kids. You should think about that. You loved it.” I thought you know what, he’s right. You know I love the elementary kids and they’re so much fun. So I switched over to elementary education and now I’m here.
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