NEW PRINCIPAL: Looking forward to school year

COLUMBIA CITY — School begins Tuesday for Whitley County Consolidated Schools, and it’s a toss-up who is more excited at Northern Heights Elementary School, the new principal or his three children.Jake Hoag, 38, was born and raised in Columbia City. Now he is excited to be principal of Northern Heights Elementary School.“All three of my children are students here, and they are as excited as I am. Not many people can say they work with their own children, but I can. I am so blessed,” said Hoag.Kaitlyn, 9, Kameron, 7 and Kyle, 5, are students at NHES and privately have asked if they have to call him “Mr. Hoag” like everyone else will, but Jake was quick to point out, with a smile, that they can call him “Dad”.His wife, Megan, is a teacher but currently stays at home. He is the son of Jerry Hoag and the late Penny Hoag.As you enter the principal’s office where retired principal Bob Hoke worked for so many years, one notices a bottle of Joy Dishwashing liquid, a can of soup that has a “I Can” label, mints and pictures of his kids.“The bottle of dishwashing liquid reminds me each time I look at it of the joy that comes from being a teacher. The ’I Can’ came from Ralph Bailey, now interim superintendent of Smith-Green Community Schools. It means I can touch children’s lives. I can do anything to help children and teachers achieve their goals,” said Hoag.He graduated from Columbia City High School in 1993 after he went to Mary Raber Elementary School and Marshall Middle School. Then he graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a secondary education and science degree.Hoag went on to teach science at Indian Springs Middle School for five years and went to school to gain his masters and education specialist degrees.“I wanted to become a principal and get a couple of years under my belt, and I did that at Madison Elementary School in Warsaw. I was there for three years,” said Hoag.Besides his time at IU he only left Whitley County for the three years at MES.Hoag decided he wanted to teach science while in high school and serving in the Cadet program at CCHS.“I was working with Lowell Longenbaugh’s science class and I saw the passion in him. I have always enjoyed being in his classes, and that’s when I knew that I wanted to teach and especially teach science,” said Hoag.For the most part Hoag has settled in and feels blessed that he has had the opportunity to meet most of the staff either one-on-one or in groups.“The staff here has been so accommodating. They want to do whatever it takes to help our children grow and meet their educational needs. That’s the common theme coming out of those meetings,” said Hoag.He wrote the staff a letter that included his goals.“I want to honor the past, improve the present and create the future. It is my goal to learn as much as I can of how Northern Heights works and build upon that,” said Hoag.He has already met a lot of the families during student registration Aug. 9. Hoag is also excited to work with the Parents Involved in Education (PIE) group.“The PIE groups is super supportive of our school,” said Hoag.He takes the principal role very seriously and hopes to influence his staff in a very positive way.When Hoag is not at school, he enjoys reading, hunting, fishing and taking vacations.“I’m excited about school year 2012-13 and my three children are asking me if I will eat lunch with them at school and drive them to and from school. I think I can work something out,” said Hoag.