The St. Rose School District is getting a new superintendent, and that means Highland Middle School will need a new principal.
Dr. Erick Baer, the current principal at HMS, has accepted the St. Rose superintendent position. Baer said he will finish out the school year in Highland. But on July 1, Baer will become a Wildcat.
Superintendent Mike Sutton said Baer’s position has been posted and interviews will begin at the end of February or the beginning of March. Sutton said he plans to make a recommendation to the Highland School Board during its meeting on March 26.
“Erick has been an integral part of our administrative team and been a great leader for Highland Middle School. We will miss him, but wish him the best in his new challenges,” Sutton said.
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As for Baer, he said he is looking forward to the new position, but the transition will be bittersweet.
“I really love what I am doing here,” Baer said.
Baer is a Highland native. After graduating from Highland High School, he went to college at SIUE. He worked in Edwardsville and Belleville for a time, only to return to teach in the schools he grew up in.
Baer has worked for the Highland School District since 2004. He spent three years at Alhambra Primary School, where he worked as a first- and second-grade teacher before becoming the principal in 2007. But even when he became principal, Baer could not get away from teaching. He taught second-grade math, science and social studies in the morning and carried out his principal duties in the afternoon.
Three years later, Baer took his position at the middle school.
Besides the students, Bair said what he will miss most are the relationships he has made with teachers and administrators.
“I know I have quality teachers that I am leaving behind, and that part is kind of unsettling to me,” Baer said.
Baer has lived in St. Rose with his family for the last 14 years.
“Even though I’m an implant — I guess— in Clinton County, I feel like I am part of the community,” Baer said.
Baer said he has been considering the job change since Dr. Patricia Cornell, the current St. Rose superintendent, announced her impending retirement three years ago. Her last day will be June 30.
Baer said applying was a no-lose situation. If he was chosen he could further his educational career. If he was not, he would get to stay in Highland.
Baer said the job has other positives as well, like working in the district where three of his children attend school.
Baer also said he knows the district he is going into. He has been a St. Rose Board of Education member since 2009. He recently began his third term on the board, but resigned when he was hired as superintendent.
Baer said the position will help to get him more involved on an institutional level. St. Rose has one school, with students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth. Currently, the school has 150 students, according to Baer. Unlike larger school districts that have separate administration buildings, Baer said his office will be inside of the school, allowing him to work more closely with the students.
Baer also said he is excited to work with younger children again.
“Coming from a primary background, that is something that I miss,” Baer said.
Baer said he will work with Cornell on a transition plan.
Cornell said the district is excited to have Baer join its school family. She also said that she has worked closely with Baer for many years, as he was a board member, and their jobs in neighboring districts have brought them together.
“I know he will continue the strong academic excellence St. Rose is known for,” Cornell said.
About Erick Baer
- Baer has worked in education for 22 years.
- Baer has four education degrees which he received from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He has his bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree as a reading specialist in elementary education, a specialist degree in educational administration, and a doctorate in educational administration.
- He worked in Whiteside School District 115 in Belleville as a first-grade teacher from 1995 to 1997.
- In 1997, Baer started working for Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 as a first-grade teacher and then an administrative intern, until 2004.
- After leaving Edwardsville, Baer started as a first-grade teacher in Highland. He became principal at Alhambra Primary in 2007, where he also doubled as a second-grade teacher.
- In 2010, Baer became principal at Highland Middle School.