Taking the reins

Rhonda Ruesch, left, principal of the high school and middle school in Center Point, checks up on an economics class she recently got to teach when the regular teacher had a conflict.

Rhonda Ruesch says when she took over as principal of the high school and middle school in Center Point, she inherited a very experienced faculty.

“Most of my teachers have 10-plus years of classroom experience,” she says. “That means we have to keep them current with methods and technology. But it also means the experienced teachers can mentor newer teachers, learning from each other.”

She says keeping up with technology is a constant process. “During my career schools have gone from chalkboards to overhead projectors to promethean boards. Every one of our students are one-to-one with a computer. They can access Google with both computers and their smartphones. That connectivity has changed how we teach kids.”

But she adds that Center Point still has a small, family atmosphere. For 300 students, she has 23 teachers, eight paraprofessionals, six administrative staff including assistant principals and counselors, and two school resource officers. That student-teacher ratio results in better understanding. There’s a lot of one-on-one talking so the faculty develops a better understanding of each student.

She says it’s her responsibility as principal to make sure the campus runs smoothly, to keep CP Secondary safe for all students and faculty, and to monitor the instruction in the classrooms. The Texas Legislature sets the curriculum through the State Board of Education, and Ruesch sees that teachers follow it.

“But the best part of my job is when I get out of the office,” she says. “Sometimes when a teacher is unexpectedly absent, I get to teach a class. My favorite time is when I can sit with students in the cafeteria during lunch and make conversation.”

Ruesch says another advantage of a small school is that students can participate in more activities, while maintaining academic progress. “Students can get more play on the sports field than in schools where they are limited to one sport. Sports help develop good work ethics, which can translate into better grades. And we also have a range of other activities, like our strong agriculture programs. Students at Center Point can gain certifications from culinary to welding. We have graduates who participated in three sports, played in the band, and earned a place on the honor roll.”

Ruesch says she was born and raised in Medford, Wisc. “The hometown of Tombstone Pizza.” She graduated from Medford Area Senior High School in 1993, then furthered her education at Mount Senario College, in Ladysmith, Wisc., earning a bachelor of arts in exercise science and history. She coached softball at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo. while she earned her master of arts in kinesiology, graduating in 2000.

She says she worked for Adams State for another year, as the sports information director, while also coaching basketball and softball. “Then I got tired of shoveling snow off the softball field before we could play, and started looking. It came down to offers in Kansas and Texas, but Kansas still has snow.”

In 2001 she says she took a position at what was then Schreiner College, coaching softball and volleyball and teaching as an adjunct professor.

In 2006 she moved to a position teaching school in D'Hanis, in Medina County. “That was a 62-mile commute, but I stayed in Kerrville for those two years. I love it here, with the Guadalupe River and the close-by state parks. You can drive an hour in any direction and see different parts of Texas. Last year I found a spot at Fredericksburg Middle School, and now I’m settled here at Center Point, in a small school in a small town like the one I grew up in. I live with Molly, my Yorkie; Fynn, my Schnauzer; and Alleycat, which pretty much describes my cat.”

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