This story first appeared and is courtesy of the Kokomo Herald
BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – In Kokomo High School’s long 143-year history, it has never had a female principal – until now. In a special school board meeting on Dec. 16, Angela Blessing was named the 22nd principal of the 38th largest high school in the state – and in the process, she made gender-breaking history.
“Gender never crossed my mind; I have always respected Kokomo Schools for hiring the best qualified candidates,” said Blessing. “I am honored and very excited to be given this opportunity by the (Superintendent Dr. Jeff Hauswald) and our school board. Their support during my time at Kokomo Schools, as well as the fact that our family has fallen in love with the Kokomo community, were major factors why I did not hesitate to say ‘yes’ when offered this position.”
Blessing is currently the principal of Bon Air Middle School, but she will relinquish that position as her high school contract starts on Dec. 17 and official duties on Jan. 4, 2016. She replaces Tony Harl, who abruptly submitted his resignation last month after a little more than a year on the job. His resignation was submitted for the end of the school year and it is unclear if it was Harl or the corporation’s decision to make the change at the end of the semester. Harl’s departure continued the current trend of short-term tenures of Wildkat leaders – Blessing will be the sixth KHS principal since 2008, joining Dr. Doug Arnold (2008-2010), Alan Ramaly (2010-2011), Rick Hagenow (2011-2013), Dr. Michael Sargent (interim in 2013-2014) and Harl.
Despite the frequent turnover, KSC Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mike Sargent believes Blessing is the right choice.
“Angela will focus on building relationships with students and families at Kokomo High School,” Sargent said. “She will provide positive learning experiences for our high school students, and she has proven her leadership skills at Bon Air.”
Blessing arrived in the school corporation in June 2014 – she was hired at the same board meeting Harl. She previously was the principal at Northridge Middle School in Crawfordsville for eight years. She also served for eight years as a teacher and assistant principal at Carmel’s Towne Meadow Elementary School. She earned her BA from Anderson University and her MS from Butler University. Blessing said she now considers Kokomo home.
“The Blessing family has planted roots, and we plan to stay in Kokomo and at Kokomo Schools,” she said. “My husband Aaron is a teacher and coach in the Kokomo Schools, while our son A.J. is a 4th-grader at Boulevard STEM Elementary and the baby, 3-year-old Aiden, will be attending preschool at Boulevard starting next school year.”
Blessing said she came to Kokomo originally because of the progressive nature of the corporation and its vision to the future.
“I am looking forward to becoming the KHS principal because so many incredible programs are available to our students, like the career center, IB, AP, STEM, 21st Century, technology, international students and exchanges,” she explained. “I am excited to build upon the programs in place while showcasing the great things happening at KHS to our community.”
She also does not see an issue with moving from the middle school level to the high school.
“The KHS vice principals are excellent people with great leadership skills,” she said. “I know they will be very helpful as I transition from middle school to high school.”
Harl, whose resignation was approved by the board at the regular December meeting, will serve as operations supervisor beginning Dec. 28. He will assist Director of Operations Mike Wade through the end of the school year.
Amanda Landrum, the current technology curriculum supervisor at Bon Air, was named the interim principal at Bon Air Middle School. Prior to working at Bon Air. Landrum taught social studies at Central Middle School and served as the district’s elementary library media specialist.
Principals through the years
A complete listing of Kokomo High School principals since its founding at the northwest corner of Armstrong and Taylor Streets in 1872:
1. 1872-1873 – J.F. Vaile
2. 1873-1876 – C.M. Harrison
3. 1876-1878 – Bessie Cox
4. 1878-1879 – W.H McClain
5. 1879-1880 – J.M. Hitt
6. 1880-1881 – A.C. Hopkins
7. 1881-1983 – H.G. Woody
8. 1893-1894 – E.B. Bryan
9. 1894-1909 – J.Z.A. McCaughan
10. 1909-1913 – C.V. Haworth
11. 1913-1915 – E.O. Maple
12. 1915-1951 – C.E. Hinshaw
13. 1951-1964 – O.I. Farmer
14. 1964-1968 – Kenneth Crook
15. 1968-1989 – Frank Moore
16. 1989-2008 – Harold Canady
17. 2008-2010 – Dr. Doug Arnold
18. 2010-2011 – Alan Ramaly
19. 2011-2013 – Rick Hagenow
20. 2013-2014 (interim) – Dr. Michael Sargent
21. 2014-Dec. 2015 – Tony Harl
22. Dec. 2015-current – Angela Blessing