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New Norfolk Catholic principal pursues academic, spiritual excellence

September 22, 2018

When you first walk into Amy Wattier’s office, there are two things you might notice.

First, the Christian music softly playing from a stereo perched on a bookcase. And second, a desk full of papers — she calls it a “working desk,” smiling wryly.

And Wattier, the new Norfolk Catholic High School principal, certainly has been fearless about getting to work, said Dr. Don Ridder, school president. Since she started on July 1, she has been driven in pursuing academic and spiritual excellence for the school, he said.

“We needed … somebody who was really strong and confident, driven, (with) great work ethic,” he said. “Great at building relationships with students, staff and parents. That’s what (Wattier) has.”

Wattier brings 21 years of education experience to the role, she said. She’s previously taught at Twin River and Norfolk Public school districts, as well as Scotus Central High School in Columbus, mostly as a math teacher.

Her own faith-based education, which includes attending St. John Neumann Elementary School in Clarkson and Midland Lutheran College in Fremont (now Midland University), gave her a strong foundation as a parochial school administrator, she said.

“I have a strong Catholic background, I enjoy teaching religious classes,” she said. “I think I had a well-rounded upbringing and I wanted to share that with students.”

She said the school improvement leadership experience she gained during her time as a teacher has helped her as she’s stepped forward into an administrator role.

Ridder, who has served as a mentor to Wattier during her transition process, agreed. “Her background and what she brought to the table regarding instructional practices is really coming to fruition and it’s a good thing for our staff,” he said. Wattier said Elementary principal Bill Lafleur and former principal, now activities director, Jeff Bellar have also provided mentorship.

In her new role, Wattier said she is building on the school’s strong academic and religious coursework. “I’m a person that thinks about improvement, where we can grow,” she said.

Her vision aligns with the school’s mission — walking together to meet Jesus — which she is implementing through numerous new plans.

This year, under Wattier’s leadership, Norfolk Catholic has started working with a spirituality committee to help instructors better integrate religion into all classes, increased what’s known as STAR assessment testing from one to three times a year and implemented a framework from The Danielson Group, a professional development program for teachers.

Wattier said each of these programs is helping Norfolk Catholic build on its mission of providing a rigorous education while reminding students what’s most important: a relationship with God.

“We are growing together, we are growing in our profession, and we’re growing in our faith,” she said. “And I want every student to be able to graduate with that same (mindset).”

Wattier’s new leadership is one of numerous changes happening at Norfolk Catholic, Ridder said. Last academic year, the school administration laid out a new strategic plan based on studies of the school. This year, eight new teachers joined Norfolk Catholic: two in elementary and six in the junior high and high school.

Ridder said these changes are elevating the school’s faith-based education.

“I’m really excited about all the opportunities God has given Norfolk Catholic — really thrilled about where we’re at and where we’re going,” he said.

And Wattier, who enrolled two of her children at Norfolk Catholic last year, said she’s excited for them to receive the school’s education; she also has two college-aged children. Plus, her husband Shawn is a 1987 alumni of Norfolk Catholic.

“My first impression of the school was: my kids are in the right place,” she said. “We’re blessed that … my kids get to enjoy this education here at Norfolk Catholic.”

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