By Marisa Patwa
The Warrick County Standard
Adam Schmitt is officially transitioning from assistant principal to principal at John H. Castle Elementary School in Newburgh.
The Warrick County School Board approved Schmitt last month and he has already jumped into the new position full-throttle, taking over for leaving principal Marty Watson, who had his last day on June 6.
Schmitt, 37, grew up in Haubstadt, received degrees from the University of Southern Indiana and has a rich educational background, including one year as a fourth grade inclusion teacher at Stringtown Elementary School in Evansville, two years as a second grade teacher and two years as a fifth grade teacher at Sharon Elementary School in Newburgh, two years as assistant principal of Lowell North and Lowell South Elementary schools in Princeton and seven years as an assistant principal at JHC, Sharon, Newburgh, Chandler, and Oakdale Elementary schools, in addition to temporary assignments as interim principal at Tennyson and Sharon Elementary schools in Warrick County.
"When I started, elementary [principal] assistants actually used to cover three buildings, believe it or not," Schmitt said. "Every other day you are in a different building, so you have to be very organized and dedicated to your job."
One of his biggest milestones as an assistant principal was being there to help step up at Sharon Elementary School when principal Ashlee Bruggenshmit's 11-year-old daughter, Kate, who was also a student there, died in a ATV-accident over the summer in 2015.
"The focus at all times had to be on the healing of her, the healing of the staff, because obviously that was one of their students," he said. "And just the tremendous support that we got in that time of well wishes was amazing. But our attention was focused on healing and using that underlying passion as motivation to really do a great job that year as far as reaching every kid."
When Schmitt got the call after that fateful May 6 school board meeting that he had been named principal, he said he was honored.
"John H. Castle Elementary has such a strong tradition of sustained excellence," he said. "I have been fortunate to be a part of the JHC family for the last six years, so I have seen first-hand all of the great things that happen here on a daily basis."
As principal, Schmitt said he plans to continue with his staff as a unified team to provide the best, individualized instruction for every child who comes through their doors.
"Our students who arrive needing special services will receive those additional supports in order for them to be successful on a daily basis," he said. "Also, students needing a more challenging environment will be continuously pushed to their maximum potential through enrichment activities."
Schmitt said although the principal is the educational leader of the school, his staff helps to develop a plan each year they implement.
"We set goals at the beginning of the year. They may be data driven, or behavioral or social emotional learning goals. And at different times, we reflect on those goals and gains and see what we need to improve on," he said. "I look forward to the opportunity to work with a tremendous staff of professional educators who use their individual skill sets to reach every child in our school."
Schmitt said he feels very humbled to be stepping into the role of principal so early in his career.
"JHC is the biggest elementary school in Warrick County with 950 plus students and is the second biggest school in the county over all," he said. "I just feel beyond fortunate to be here because we are such a tremendous staff with 42 K-5, speech, resource, special ed and fine arts teachers."
Schmitt said the school, community and his family, including wife, Missy, and their three kids, Lyla, 5, Brantley, 4 and Brynn, 2, have all been incredibly supportive of his promotion.
"My family and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity for me to continue to be a part of a school where we will always put kids first," he said. "I feel blessed to have received so much student, educator and parent support. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to work in the Warrick County School Corporation."