Pictured (L to R) are Claire Hickerson holding niece Maisy and Claire’s parents, Bryan and Jo Hickerson. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
Pictured (L to R) are Claire Hickerson holding niece Maisy and Claire’s parents, Bryan and Jo Hickerson. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.
A former Warsaw Community Schools graduate spoke to the School Board Tuesday to let them know where her life has taken her after graduation.

Board Vice President Randy Polston said Claire Hickerson went through Harrison Elementary School.

Hickerson said she is a fighter pilot with the United States Air Force. She graduated from the Air Force Academy after graduating from Warsaw Community High School.

She said without the support she received from the school corporation, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Hickerson said she was provided the idea of going to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., from her guidance counselor. Hickerson said she was trying to take more classes than she was allowed to take and, during a visit with her guidance counselor, Hickerson’s guidance counselor said she had something up Hickerson’s alley, which ended up being the Air Force Academy.

She saw some videos and looked at some information, which she took home, and thought it was “really cool.” Up until then, Hickerson hadn’t seen something that could give her so much meaning for the rest of her life.

When she graduated high school, she found she had a spot in the Academy.

She went through six weeks of basic training and spent four years at the academy, noting she didn’t know what she was getting herself into, but without the support she had back home, she wouldn’t have been able to do it.

She studied operations research. After graduating, she found she had a spot in the pilot program, where she spent two years training.

Hickerson said she will be moving to England at the end of the month and will be stationed about two hours north of London.

Board President Heather Reichenbach said it was a pleasure to have her at the meeting and asked if Hickerson would come back in the future and talk to the Board again.

In other business, Dr. Dani Barkey, assistant superintendent of secondary schools, introduced several new assistant principals at WCS through a prerecorded video.

Michelle White will be the assistant principal at Lakeview Middle School. Barkey said has been an interventionist at WCS for the past few years. She also has some emergency specialist training.

Paul Zakaria will be the assistant principal at Warsaw Area Career Center. Barkey said he is a longtime engineering teacher. He helped WCS design its contact training form.

Dave Bailey will be the senior class principal at WCHS. Most recently, he’s been a Step 1 teacher for WCS, working with some of the most high-risk students, Barkey said.

Leah Sprunger will be the junior class assistant principal. She taught chemistry at WCHS for several years, Barkey said.

Steven Caudill will be the sophomore assistant principal. He was a history teacher in Bremen. He also has some teaching experience on a Native American reservation in New Mexico, Barkey said.

Tim Devlin will be the freshman assistant principal. He was a teacher at Edgewood, Barkey said.

At the beginning of the Board meeting Tuesday, there was a hearing before the Board starts contract negotiations with Warsaw Community Education Association.

Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said they are currently in informal bargaining.

“And what that basically means is, WCS and WCEA having a conversation over the past year to evaluate priorities, budgets and enrollment,” Hoffert said. That process continues forward until Sept. 15 when the two organizations move into an actual contract negotiation phase. That phase concludes Nov. 15.

At the conclusion of that phase Nov. 15, as long as WCS and WCEA have come to an agreement, both sides will ratify the contract, Hoffert said.

Hoffert explained some of the goals during the process.

He said three years ago, WCS set a goal to get teacher’s salaries over $40,000 as a starting base salary. He believes WCS will be at that point this year.

Another goal is to have potential upward mobility inside the education profession.

There were no public comments during the hearing.

In other business, the Board learned Chief Financial Officer April Fitterling will have a preview of the 2022 budget at Monday’s meeting. There will be a budget hearing at the Sept. 20 meeting.