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By Whitney Keith
Ava Middle School students will be greeted by a new face when they come back to school next month.
Cody Hirschi was hired in the spring as the new middle school principal, replacing Nathan Houk, who is staying with the district in a teaching capacity.
“I hope to have an impact here and to serve the kids,” Hirschi said. “It all comes down to what we can do for the kids.”
Hirschi has spent his entire teaching career until this point in the Fort Zumwalt School District.
He was a third grade teacher and has been a fifth grade teacher for the past four years.
He also served as head track coach, football coach and camp coordinator, as Fort Zumwalt has a large outdoor recreation program.
“It was one of the larger school districts in the state, so it definitely had a different dynamic than Ava,” Hirschi said.
He started looking for openings in this area, and actually went to an interview at a nearby district on the same day that he dropped off his application for his current position.
“Dr. Underwood happened to be in his office so I was able to hand him my information and introduce myself,” Hirschi said.
Underwood called him back for an interview soon after and he was later offered the middle school position.
“As we were driving through Ava, I just felt a connection to the area,” Hirschi said. “We feel so blessed to be here.”
Hirschi grew up in the state of Washington, where his father was a teacher.
“I spent a lot of time in schools with my dad, and that’s what led to my passion for education.”
His wife, a personal trainer, is from St. Charles, Mo., so the couple moved there after they met.
Hirschi received his undergraduate, master’s and specialist degrees from Lindenwood University in St. Charles.
He is currently working on his doctorate at that school.
Hirschi said that he hopes to bring his experience and leadership style as assets to the district.
His main goal is to unify the staff in his building toward common goals.
“I know we are headed in the right direction,” he said. “I want to unify the staff to have the same vision and to find out our core values.”
He said his approach is to “work smarter, not harder.”
“As a building, we need to come together and find out what we’re doing well and what we can work on,” he said. “We have kids genuinely struggling as far as student achievement, and we need to find out how we can best help them.”
He said there’s several things that the middle school is doing well in, but they might not be doing exceptionally well in.
“I want to take it a little further, a little more in-depth,” he said.
He said that he wants the staff to be unified in how they deal with children in the classroom, in the hallways and outside the building.
“We have students coming from every walk of life,” Hirschi said. “I want them to know when they walk in this building that there is a high standard here.”
He said that these goals will take time to work on, but he hopes to connect with students and teachers.
He’s already been impressed with the dedication that teachers have shown in the few weeks he’s been here.
He hopes that the school will give students the best opportunities available to them.
“This is an opportunity for me to serve, and I’m excited to start,” he said.
Hirschi and his wife have three sons – a third-grade student and a first-grade student who will both be attending Ava Elementary and a 3 year old.
His hobbies include spending time with his family, especially outdoors.
“I like to do anything I can with my wife and kids,” he said. “We are pretty active, running triathlons and exercising. We also like to hike, fish and camp.
“This is the perfect area for the things that we like to do.”
Hirschi has already jumped into his position, and is looking forward to meeting more of the staff and students at early registration next week.
“I already feel connected to these kids, even for the few that I have met so far,” he said.