Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Ploesch, Builds Strong Relationships with Students & Staff

Posted by PA Distance Learning on 4/20/20 8:33 AM
Teacher Spotlight Elementary School Principal Mrs. Ploesch

With a background in the arts from her beginning at CAPA Creative and Performing Arts School in downtown Pittsburgh with a focus on playing the flute, Mrs. Aubrey Ploesch has always been interested in music. Due to this musical enthusiasm and passion for children, she pursued a degree at Duquesne University for music education with an elementary focus.

After realizing she wanted to teach, she went back to Duquesne for her Master’s in the School of Education while simultaneously teaching music as a long-term substitute. Her love for music, combined with her passion for teaching, made for a perfect combination.

She had always wanted to diversify her responsibilities as an educational professional beyond teaching students. She later pursued a certificate in School Administration at the California University of Pennsylvania to further her education as a teacher support.

Her educational journey led her to work for Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) as the District Coordinator for Performing Arts, where she supervised instrumental teachers, organized and oversaw all of the marching bands, and planned a festival each spring. Although Mrs. Ploesch enjoyed her time at PPS, she lacked the direct engagement with students that she had missed when she was a music teacher.

“I missed being with kids,” she explained. “The daily or even weekly interaction wasn’t there.”

After searching, she found a new administrative position where she could also interact with students as the Elementary Principal for the PA Distance Learning Charter School in July of 2019. After learning from past experiences and gaining valuable knowledge from her certificate programs, Mrs. Ploesch was confident that she could be a reliable support system both for her team of elementary teachers and for students at PA Distance.

As the elementary principal, she supervises, evaluates, and assists all of the K-6 grade level teachers and makes sure that all aspects of life in “elementary land,” as she calls it, run smoothly and efficiently in a way that serves the students.

“I’ve been building relationships with the students and the staff,” she explained. “I’m learning from my team of teachers every single day. It’s exciting to see them change, and our kids grow and change.”

She regularly checks in with parents and students on the phone, via email, or through Google chat. Since she began her work at PA Distance almost a year ago, she’s been thinking of new ways to connect and support her staff and students.

“We have a unique opportunity with the kids and the capacity to connect with them in a meaningful way,” she explained. “I’m working on an elementary specific handbook for parents and prospective parents. It’ll have sections where we talk about student support, curriculum, materials assessments, resources, and what teaching looks like at home.”

She notes that parent engagement is essential and a collaborative effort between families and PA Distance administration, teachers, and staff.

“The right amount of parent support is significant,” she explained. “It’s finding the right balance and finding what students need to be successful in their life and their space.”

Mrs. Ploesch explains that as a principal, she supports her teachers in any way that she can, but sometimes, they teach her things, too.

“Our staff can jump in and make things happen for each student,” she said. “The things they do here, and with their kids, are pretty inspiring. They’re magicians. They do amazing things with their kids every day.”

She also touches on misconceptions floating around society about the effectiveness of cyber school education.

“There’s a lot of research that is regularly coming out about how kids learn to read,” she explained. “People assume that, because we are cyber, we can’t do these things.”

“You have to be open to seeing how things work here, as a cyber school,” she said. “We are transparent and committed to our kids. Our goal is to help our students grow and prepare them for what’s next.”

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