WHS principal takes on new administrative role due to COVID-19


Photo by Kaylee Karll

The Technology and Learning Center is where WHS principal, Dr. Joseph Dierks, is now located for his new administrative role. “Right now I am the Virtual Programs Administrator (K-12), and I am still the A + coordinator for the district,” Dierks said. “This is a temporary position that fills a need for the district.” Prior to becoming an administrator, Dierks was a teacher for 16 years.

As the debatable 2020-2021 school year rolled around, Washington High School students and staff are still in the process of getting into the swing of things. Many upperclassmen, who are more familiar with the staff, have started to notice that former history teacher Ben Strauser is now a principal of the school. Some may ask why we need another principal. This is because assistant principal Dr. Joseph Dierks has moved on to take over everything online school related due to COVID-19. Dierks’ new official title is Virtual Programs Administrator (K-12). 

I was helping to enroll students in K-12 in several online learning platforms and I am supervising their progress.  I work with families to provide a quality experience for all of our virtual learners,” Dierks said.  “I also work with teachers to provide some extra learning opportunities and experiences for the students.”

Along with these new tasks, Dierks is also at a new place of work in the district, the Technology and Learning Center. His new placement and tasks are very different from what he’s used to doing. 

“I am working with students of all ages, which has been really fun, but the work is all done via email, phone, Google Classroom and Zoom. I don’t get to interact with many people in person, but I am really busy communicating with people electronically and on the phone,” Dierks said. 

Although Dierks enjoys his new job, it has definitely brought on some challenges. 

“I was not prepared for the volume of calls and emails that I have experienced. I am overseeing something completely new and people have a ton of questions. When I am on the phone with someone, sometimes I get three or four voicemails while I am on the phone with the first person,” Dierks said. “Sometimes it is really hard to keep up, but I want to be able to get timely answers to everyone. Despite this, I have enjoyed getting to know new people and working with elementary families for the first time.”

Even with getting to know new families in the district, Dierks still misses being at the high school. 

“I went into education because I love working with students and sharing in their experiences at school. I spent 16 years as a teacher having fun with my students each and every day,” Dierks said. “Being a principal was a little different, but the best part was interacting with students. If I was having a bad day, I would walk the halls or pop into a classroom and share experiences with students. I really, really miss that.”