Herbst to fill principal’s office at LHES in 2015
By SEAN SHAPIRO
Melanie Herbst got the grand tour of Liberty Hill Elementary School on Monday morning.
She attended the morning assembly, met the teachers and staff, picked reitiring principal Jan Tredemeyer’s brain for ideas, and met many of the students she will be working with when she takes over as principal in January 2015.
“I have a difficult name to pronounce, but all the kids were calling me by name and very excited,” Ms. Herbst said. “It’s just a very warm place, it was really wonderful.”
For the record, it’s pronounced just like it looks. The H isn’t silent while the consonants all run together in one syllable, forming the German word for autumn.
With the initial pronunciation out of the way Ms. Herbst — as she will be known by the students — is looking forward to making the transition to Liberty Hill, which has the similar small-town feel as where she grew up in Orange Grove in south Texas.
“I think it’s kind of coming back to my roots and being in a small-town community, that’s something I always loved growing up,” Ms. Herbst said. “It just seems like a nice place to continue what I’m doing … I’ve heard lots of things about the quality of education here and community.”
Ms. Herbst, 46, said she started hearing even move positive things about Liberty Hill as she told others she had applied for the vacancy at the elementary school, which only added excitement to her shift from assistant principal at Round Rock’s Callison Elementary School.
Ms. Herbst brings a wide range of experience from 15 years (11 in Round Rock) in education to Liberty Hill. She has taught from kindergarten through fifth grades, she has also worked as an instructional coach in Round Rock ISD before being named the assistant principal at Chandler Oaks Elementary School, where she worked four years before moving to Callison in August.
In all of her positions, Herbst has enjoyed working in the classroom with students, something she plans to continue as principal in Liberty Hill.
“I really see a principal at any campus as an advocate for kids,” Ms. Herbst said. “Whether they’re 17 or whether they’re 7, I see the role as that I need to get to know my students first and foremost.”
“This is really finding out about what their families are like and involving them in our campus,” she continued. “I’m very much about building those relationships … my passion for kids is meeting the needs for both social and academic. It’s important we be advocates for those kids.”
Ms. Herbst went to Texas State University, then known as Southwest Texas State University, and then started her career in education, where she made a couple stops in south Texas before moving to Central Texas.
She earned her master’s degree from Lamar University, which ended up springing her on the administration path.
“I didn’t really have an end goal when I started, I just liked working in a classroom,” Ms. Herbst said. “I knew I needed to get my feet wet and see what (administration) was all about. What I found was that I was able to still be in classrooms and working with kids … as an administrator I learned I had an opportunity to impact not just 20 (students), but 500, 700 or 800 (students) on any given day.”
The latest career jump came at the right time for Ms. Herbst’s family as well.
Her daughter, Emily, is a senior at Round Rock Cedar Ridge High School. While Herbst will start at Liberty Hill in January, she won’t move from Round Rock until after her daughter graduates in May before she heads to Texas Tech or Texas Women’s University.
“It’s a good time for me, with her moving to school, to move to an area that kind of reminds me of what I grew up in,” Ms. Herbst said. “I have some time to look around, I’d like to get a place with a big tree in the yard if possible.”
She will also still be close to her extended family. Her father has a ranch in the Austin area, while her 23-year-old son Scott and 3-year-old grandson, Landon, live in North Austin.
For the time being it’s an incredible juggling act for Herbst as she transitions from one school to the other.
She was able to spend time in Liberty Hill on Monday since Round Rock ISD had off on Monday. She also plans to do a couple half days in Liberty Hill after Thanksgiving to watch how Mrs. Tredemeyer runs the school.
“I’ve got so much to read and digest just from today,” Ms. Herbst said. “She’s done a great job for so long. I want to continue that and jump in right away in January the right way.”