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Q-&-A With Dr. Margaret Hoernemann

Writer / Heather Chastain

Dr. Margaret Hoernemann came to Avon Community School Corporation in 2000 and has been superintendent for the past 5 years. She sat down to speak with us about how Avon is leading the way in progressive educational techniques despite limited funding.

After the failed referendum, what kind of changes did the school corporation make?

We had to become as lean as possible without sacrificing quality. Since 2009, we have 27 fewer teachers, 20 fewer custodians, six fewer administrators but 931 more students.

Our goal is to keep the quality of public education high. That’s tough when the budget proposed is lower than inflation. We’re financially stable, but we’re not in great shape.

I’m very proud of what is happening instructionally. It’s very progressive. We are now using a more collaborative approach. Classrooms today look very different. We have small groups of kids working together on project, problem based learning. The key to learning today is to identify and manage different ways to get the right answer. Opportunities that used to be occasional, special activities are becoming a more regular part of our curriculum. It’s hard and time consuming to teach this way. We want more critical thinking. We don’t want our students to just regurgitate information. Our kids are more than a test score.

We’re proud to say there’s something for everyone at Avon. We have high engagement in our extracurricular activities. I think we do a really good job with all of our kids.

How are Avon Community Schools also collaborating with the community?

This is a challenging time for public education, but I believe we have gained the confidence of our community. We have fabulous support from the town of Avon. A group of us — including the Town of Avon, the Avon-Washington Township Library, the Avon Chamber of Commerce and other taxing entities — began meeting to see how we can work together to help each other. We believe if we collaborate, we can be a stronger community. We work hard at these relationships, and I’m really happy with how they have developed. We’re all part of the community and we can all be successful in what we do if we work together.

This is a fabulous school system because we are a reflection of the community. We serve great kids, have great parents and a dedicated staff. We succeed because of the people. We are very fortunate.

What’s next for Avon Community Schools?

We are embarking on some major renovations for Intermediate East. The building was originally built as an open concept, but it’s outdated for the way we are doing things now. Most of the classrooms don’t even have any natural light coming in. We are excited to have a nice environment that’s equitable for our kids.

What was one of your greatest educational experiences?

Studying at the University of Dijon in France. I was able to do that through a Rotary Scholarship. I’m so grateful for those experiences and will always be indebted to the Rotary Club for that scholarship.

About Heather Chastain

Heather Chastain is an Emmy award-winning journalist and author of the children’s book “Caroline Girls.” Learn more at CarolineGirls.com.

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