Beth Hoeing sees her first year as Southwestern Elementary School Principal as “new beginnings.”
Hoeing replaces Joshua Edwards, who was hired as the southern Shelby County school system’s superintendent prior to the end of the 2021-2022 school year. He spent nearly a decade as the elementary school principal.
A lifelong Franklin schools instructor, Hoeing has had the entire summer to prepare for her first school year as a principal.
“It’s been great,” said Hoeing of the transition. “The staff here is very helpful. They are always willing to help out. There is a lot of heart in the building, that love of Southwestern. Anytime I have a question, I can call or text someone and they instantly answer or come in to help.”
A Franklin High School and Franklin College graduate, Hoeing spent 13 years as an elementary school teacher in her hometown before becoming an instructional coach at Northwood Elementary School in Franklin.
“I not only wanted to impact students but I wanted to help teachers,” said Hoeing from her new Southwestern office Tuesday morning. “I wanted to impact teachers and help teachers address the realities of what was happening in their classrooms. It could be anything from instruction and assessment to behavior. I wanted to support the teachers.”
That role started Hoeing on her administrative track and led her to Southwestern.
“What attracted me to Southwestern was the small community,” she said. “The small community feel, the involvement, the families and the members of the community coming together and really being involved in the school.
“Someone told me this is the hub of Southwestern -- the school -- and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Hoeing was familiar with Southwestern’s tumultuous end to the 2021-22 school year and has spent the summer building relationships with the returning staff as well as filling open teaching positions.
“I have spent a lot of time with (the returning teachers),” said Hoeing. “They are in here often. It’s one of my favorite things about being in the building. The other day, I was sitting in here working and there were five of them out in the office just laughing and having a ball.
“I said, ‘You guys needs to go home. It’s summer.’ And they were like, ‘We don’t want to go home. This is fun.’ That has been exciting. They have been so open to new ideas. They are bringing new ideas to the table. It’s a very positive vibe in the building.”
Prior to the end of the last school year, the school system’s teachers association filed an unfair labor practice claim against the new superintendent and a school board member citing threats and intimidation following claims that students’ Individual Education Program (IEP) minutes were not being fulfilled.
The claim also stated a disciplinary matter for a teacher was handled without union representation for the teacher.
The claim was dismissed by the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board. Several elementary school teachers left the school system which presented Hoeing with her first major challenge.
“I was aware of (the situation) but it wasn’t a factor in my decision to come here,” said Hoeing. “The biggest factor was that small community. That is what I wanted. And the commitment and the heart that is in this district.
“I had the privilege of working with a teacher that taught here at Southwestern for years and something that always struck me was she said, ‘Once a Spartan, Always a Spartan.’ And she would share about her time at Southwestern and shared it with such pride and such love so I knew what was happening at this district was good and I wanted to be a part of it.”
With a week left of summer break, Hoeing has the building nearly fully staffed. New teacher orientation is Wednesday which has her excited for new beginnings.
Once that is complete, it will be time for the students to return to the building.
“I’m probably not more nervous than I’ve ever been in the past,” she said of what will be her first day as a principal. “I’m sure I will have that recurring nightmare I have every year where I’m late to work.
“We are prepared. We have that first day very organized and we are ready … as organized as we can be since we work with children. Sometimes that doesn’t exactly work out.”
Her goal is to be in every classroom that first short week of school so the students can learn more about her.
“I am going to spend a chunk of time in each classroom those first couple of days in school, reading that book to those students, meeting the students, making sure they know my face,” said Hoeing. “I will be in the cafeteria for lunch duty those first three days at least, being with the kids as much as possible so they start to learn who I am because they are used to Mr. Edwards. It’s a huge change for them.”
Hoeing is married to a Franklin police officer. The couple have two daughters who will be a junior and a freshman at Franklin High School this fall.