Sophia Castillo, Heather Baker | staff writers
Wabaunsee High School has a new principal this year, but also an old one.
Junior High principal Steve Oliver has taken over at the high school as well. Jeron Weisshaar is assisting him as the new assistant principal. Although new to the position, this is not Oliver’s first rodeo at WHS.
Oliver grew up in Maple Hill and graduated from WHS in 1976. He also played football at KU from 1976-1980. He returned to WHS in 1983 to teach freshman English and body fitness, also serving as head football coach.
“I enjoyed it,” Oliver said about teaching, “but I really got tired of all of the grading and all of the papers and spending a lot of hours outside of the school day doing a lot of work to prepare for the next day’s class.” Being principal comes with a lot of paperwork too, but it’s mostly online and much easier to deal with. Oliver taught at WHS from 1983 to 1986 before leaving to teach in Erie, Kansas. He taught in Erie for nineteen years before being promoted to administration in 2005 for seven years. He returned to Wabaunsee as the principal of the middle school and junior high in 2015.
“In the beginning, it was coaching,” Oliver said about his career in education, “I wanted to stay involved in athletics.” He decided that coaching was the right path for him. “I made a decision early in my career that I was not interested in college level coaching.” He explained that the time that he had to put into college-level coaching was too much for him to handle while also trying to raise a family. “It’s all about teaching and coaching, whether it’s on an athletic field or in a classroom, in the hallway, whatever, it’s all coaching and teaching and modeling the behavior we want to see (in students).”
Oliver isn’t the only one in his family involved in education. He’s not the only principal either. “My brother Harold is the principal at Riley County High School, and my daughter Erin is both the assistant principal and the athletic director at the same school.” His youngest daughter has a degree in Ag Education and works for the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Oliver also has a sister-in-law who is a retired art teacher from Topeka and a cousin who taught social studies and coached football who retired from Rock Creek High School.
When asked about the differences between the junior high and high school, Oliver said “They’re entirely different academically,” and “it’s our job here to make sure that when a student graduates from the high school, they’re prepared for their profession, or to go on to a 4-year school, or 2-year school, to further their education.”
The biggest challenge Oliver has faced so far is being principal for two different schools in two different towns. “It’s hard to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Oliver is excited to be the principal at WHS and said he’s really looking forward to enjoying higher level accomplishments and watching people grow and develop into moving on for greater things in their lives.
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