By: Brennen McWright, Jace Digiacomo, and Luthea Sweeney
At the November 10 PENNCREST school board meeting, Principal Tom Baker was approved for leave through January 2, and Maplewood’s current assistant principal Dr. Erica Howick was appointed interim principal in Baker’s absence.
Mrs. Howick has been employed by PENNCREST since 2007. She taught English at Saegertown and Maplewood before taking the administration role at MHS. For her first teaching assignment, she shared a classroom with English teachers Stacey Hetrick and Dee Henry.
“I am familiar with the building and many staff members,” Howick said. “So I think my transition here will be easier than going to another school or district.”
Howick earned a Ph.D. in leadership and management from Robert Morris University in May, and she is a mental health first aid trainer.
“I feel confident that she’ll work very hard for the students and staff,” said English teacher Stacey Hetrick. “I’m excited she finished her doctorate recently, and her research on trauma-informed care will benefit many students.”
Saegertown’s Assistant Principal Phillip Young is similarly positive about Howick’s move to Saegertown.
“I’ve known her since she started at SHS,” Young said. “She’s professional, hard-working, and committed to a career in education.’
Mr. Young is confident that the transition won’t be an issue for him. “I’m good at adapting to different expectations and always pretty flexible,” Mr. Young said. “I don’t anticipate any difficulty.”
Dr. Howick has two primary goals in mind. The first is mental well-being. “I want all students and staff to feel heard, safe, and inspired,” Howick said.
The other goal is school-wide growth: “I want students to set goals and work towards making growth in individual classes, on state assessments, and with their social and emotional well-being.”
She noted that goalsetting is important in all aspects of life and breaking large goals into smaller chunks will help students find the success and confidence to attack the larger goals.
Although Mrs. Howick is happy to step into her new role, she has found some aspects of the transition to be challenging, like saying goodbye to the staff at Maplewood.
“I informed the staff on Wednesday and the students on Friday,” Mrs. Howick said. “It was emotional having to say goodbye to everyone.”
Despite the sadness of leaving Maplewood, she feels empowered to lead such a wonderful group of students and staff.
“I have been showered with positivity by my previous staff and welcomed by the new staff already,” Mrs. Howick said. “I am up for the challenge, and I hope that all students and staff feel comfortable approaching me with issues and successes.”
On a personal note, Mrs. Howick shared she has two children, a son and a daughter. “I enjoy hockey, and my son plays currently, so I get to watch it a lot!” she said. Her interests include writing and listening to books on audible, and she would like to write a book one day.
“I look forward to celebrating all of the positives that already exist in the school,” Howick said. “I will listen to students and staff so we can hopefully add more things to celebrate in the future for both academics and extracurriculars.”
NewsMedia Program of Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School