NEW PARIS — New National Trail High School and Middle School principals Michael Eyler and Jennifer Couch sat down with The Register-Herald recently to talk about their goals for the coming school year.
Eyler previously served as principal of National Trail Middle School for two years before moving to the high school. Before that he taught eleventh and twelfth-grade English for eight years.
“I started in high school,” Eyler said. “I’ve taught high school students for so long that I felt very comfortable with that. The part I like best is helping them get to that stage of life after high school, where they’re finding careers, or looking at colleges, or getting into the military.”
Eyler said he was excited to have the opportunity to contribute to a culture of learning at National Trail.
“I’m looking forward to building a culture, and to continuing a lot of what Trail has already done,” Eyler said. “Taking all those pieces and saying to the students, ‘how is this going to affect you?’”
Part of that involves partnering with organizations in the community to provide opportunities for vocational education for Trail’s students, according to Eyler.
“We’ve got a very solid plan for how to get our students to success,” Eyler said. “My plan is to add to that, and find ways for our students to get learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.”
Eyler also wants to encourage students to bring their skills and education back to their home county, where applicable.
“I grew up in Preble County, and I always thought I was going to move away,” Eyler said. “But Trail said, ‘We’ve got a place for you,’ so I’ve seen what can happen when you come back home.”
“This is my eleventh year,” Eyler continued. “I started with Trail and now I’m continuing. I’m excited to continue to be a part of this family and continue moving upward. It’s better to be a Blazer – that’s what we always say, and it’s true!”
Middle School principal Jennifer Couch, meanwhile, worked as a K-8 special education teacher at Eaton Community Schools for over a decade, as well as teaching sixth-grade math and science.
“I wanted to get a ‘regular ed’ experience in addition to my special ed experience before making the move to principal,” Couch said. “I felt it was a wonderful way to impact more students than I would see just as a teacher.”
The first step in that process, Couch said, is reaching out to school and community members and soliciting their input.
“I have a lot of learning and a lot of listening to do,” Couch said of her new position. “Meeting with teachers, staff, and parents to figure out what needs to change and what needs to continue.”
Couch said she relished the opportunity to be an administrator in a school district with a foundation of family.
“You’re part of a family, part of a bigger picture,” Couch said. “Even though I’m just at the Middle School, it’s not a separate entity. The school, the students, the community, are all connected.”
“Being new, and having Mike so close — it’s wonderful to have an administrative team that’s willing to jump in and continue to support you,” Couch continued. “Right now they are my life rafts.”