Hawthorne principal moves to Sweet Home Junior High

Sean C. Morgan

Terry Augustadt, known around the district as Mr. A has moved from Hawthorne Elementary School, where he was principal for five years, to a new position as vice principal and athletic director at Sweet Home Junior High.

He succeeds Andy Price, who has returned to work in Springfield, his hometown.

“He did a great job, and he contributed in a remarkable way last year,” district Supt. Tom Yahraes said of Price, who snatched a last-minute opportunity to work closer to home. “We wish him the best.

“I’m excited about what Terry brings to the culture, the culture of kids, the culture of staff. The Junior High is going to benefit so much from his experience and background. It’s going to be vital with the Junior High going through extraordinary challenges coming up in construction.”

Renovation of the school likely begins next summer and will continue into 2019.

Augustadt will be the one to hold it together during construction, Yahraes said. He has background as an athletic director, and this will maximize the district’s use of his skill set.

Junior High Principal Colleen Henry said she is looking forward to working with Augustadt under the same roof.

“I’ve been really fortunate the last couple of years to work with some amazing educators,” Henry said. “Terry is going to bring a unique perspective. I know he’s had a lot of experience at Hawthorne that will enrich the educational experience of our students and staff.”

Their personalities and styles are different.

Augustadt, for example, is prone to cheating for fun at basketball – ordering pizza as a distraction in the middle of a staff-sixth grade basketball game, which is all good because everyone else also bends the rules in that particular annual game. Even the refs are barely to be trusted, and The New Era photographs that game from among the players on the court itself.

By contrast, Henry is more reserved and unlikely to ever cheat at basketball.

More seriously, Augustadt’s competitive drive – he noted recently that Hawthorne had more visitors to the Basketball Night at the high school last year than any other school – and Henry’s skills with curriculum and media make them a good match for the junior high, Yahraes said.

Henry sees their styles as complementary.

“I’m looking forward to someone who challenges me to be a better leader and just having a partner,” she said.

The two became principals the same year, Augustadt said. Henry became principal at Oak Heights prior to moving to the junior high. The two are the senior administrators in the district now.

“I’m so excited about working with her,” Augustadt said. There are things she brings to the table and deals with that he would prefer to just run from. “We respect each other greatly. We’ve been allowed to collaborate already.”

One thing that convinced him to take the job was working with Henry.

At Hawthorne, he was the lone administrator, he said. At the Junior High, he has “a partner in crime right next door. She gets it. She’s walking in the same pathway.”

They recognize strengths in each other, and that helps them divide the work between them, he said.

“I’m excited about the change,” Augustadt said. “I’m a little nervous. It’s a different age group, different developmental level, but kids are kids. I’m excited about the idea of broadening my own experience.”

Augustadt said he felt he was dialed in well at the elementary level when the superintendent asked him about his long-term goals last year. Augustadt said he wanted to experience all levels of education.

“If I’m crazy enough to be a superintendent, I need to be well-rounded,” Augustadt said. He’s not sure he wants to be a superintendent, but it’s possible.

When Price resigned suddenly this summer, Yahraes called him. They mulled over the idea, and they agreed to give it a shot.

Augustadt joined the Sweet Home School District in 2008. He worked as a counselor at Holley, Crawfordsville and Hawthorne and was involved in the transition of students from Crawfordsville to Holley when the district closed Crawfordsville.

During his years as Hawthorne principal, he said. “I’ve been blessed to have such an awesome Hawthorne staff.”

It really is a family there, and the Hawthorne family mentored him as he became an administrator, he said. He is excited that Hawthorne teacher Barbi Riggs is succeeding him there.

“I think it’s great the district recognizes people (and promotes) from within,” Augustadt said. “She understands children and relationships.”

He looks forward to working with a new age group.

“They’re hormones first,” Augustadt said. “Rational second. They say funny things that are a little more subversive than an ele-mentary kid.”

And that level of humor is fun, he said.

Day to day, Augustadt will be responsible for discipline and athletics.

In discipline, “it’s about the kid, getting to the root cause,” Augustadt said. It’s not about sending students to detention but finding ways to help the student succeed.

Students in this district might spend the night at home without lights or dinner, he said, and using the hammer may not really help them.

He wants to work with students to help them find their version of success, whether they go to college, become a metal fabricator, a truck driver, etc., he said.

“We always want to hold kids accountable, always in a firm and fair way that isn’t destroying the kids in the process,” Augustadt said.

“We’re here to educate not to punish. My job is to just help everyone of them along,” recognizing successes and helping students fill in deficiencies.

As far as athletics is concerned, Augustadt will take his time to get familiar with the programs, and then he would like to find ways to build community among them throughout the grade levels and across all the sports – an athletics-wide community barbecue at the beginning of the year is a possible example.

He said he thought Sweet Home High School Principal Ralph Brown’s idea to invite students from each of the elementary school swith free admission and popcorn one night during last basketball season was exactly the right kind of idea.

The elementary students loved it, he said, making the point that his school had the most in attendance.

Augustadt also will be involved in messaging with the roll-out of the bond measure approved by voters in May.

“I’m going to help facilitate a visual timeline,” he said.

With staff during in service, in keeping with the upcoming renovation, he is using a construction metaphor this year, noting that “the road to success is always under construction.”

“We’re going to try to promote our staff members when they’re growing, taking risks, trying to do the right things for our kids,” Augustadt said.

To symbolize it, the administration will hand out miniature construction cones and hardhats as a form of “shout out.”