Students of John Greenleaf Whittier Middle School will have a new person to meet once classes resume in mid-September: Assistant Principal Cathy Koch.
A North Andover resident and mother of three, Koch comes to Haverhill after two years as assistant principal of the Lura A. White Elementary School in the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District. Koch has also served as assistant principal of the Lloyd G. Blanchard Middle School in Westford.
Koch said middle school is where she most feels at home as an educator and that she looks forward to jumping right into the Whittier school community.
"I'm so excited on so many levels," Koch said of her new role. "There's just something about middle school. I say the same thing about kindergarten teachers: You're just born to be a kindergarten teacher, and it's the same thing about middle school. I just like the energy — it sets me on fire. I like being around middle school kids. You get to witness their transformation into young adulthood and it's really kind of cool."
Describing her leadership style, the new Haverhill administrator said that her motto is "I've got your back."
Koch said she is anxious to work alongside Whittier Principal Tim Betty, former assistant principal at the school, as students navigate the return to classes amid COVID-19. A 10-year veteran of Whittier Middle School, Betty was promoted from assistant principal to principal in June. He replaced Brian Gill, who had been out on medical leave.
"Tim Betty and I will probably be a good match because we can play off each other from a discipline perspective and we can move the curriculum piece forward," said Koch, who was director of curriculum for the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston from 2002 to 2005. "Tim is so open to things that are going to benefit kids. He doesn't have an ego. It's not about who comes up with the idea — it's about what will benefit the building.
"I look forward to building relationships with families and in the community so that they know I'm going to show up every day and I can be counted on, that I've got your back and that we'll get there — that's important," Koch said. "Each family knows what is best for their student and I'm here to support that."
Koch already has the support of Superintendent Margaret Marotta.
"We are very excited to have Ms. Koch join us: She is an experienced administrator, skilled at building solid relationships with staff and families, and has deep understanding of curriculum and instruction, both in-person and remote," Marotta said. "She is a welcome addition to our team.
Haverhill public school students begin the new year with a hybrid mix of learning in classrooms and remotely online from home starting Sept. 16.