Cochren named Heritage Hills principal



LINCOLN CITY — When the 2020-21 school year starts, Heritage Hills High School Assistant Principal Jeff Cochren will get a new office.

The North Spencer School Board appointed Cochren, 56, principal of the high school at its meeting last week. He will take the place of the current principal, Nick Alcorn, who will retire at the end of the school year.

A Huntingburg native and Southridge High School graduate, Cochren joined Heritage Hills 10 years ago. At the time, Alcorn was principal, and Cochren was impressed at the community set up around the school.

“Heritage Hills is just a great place for kids to learn,” he said. “It’s a tremendous community with high expectations for the students.”

Cochren plans to continue that community of excellence when he takes the helm as principal.

He came to the education field late in life. When he graduated high school in 1982, his parents, Dick and Carolyn Cochren — who were both educators — discouraged him from pursuing a career in education. At the time, Cochren recalled, the education field was going through tough times, similar to today. So, Jeff decided to pursue a degree in business from Oakland City University. With that degree, he got a job as a machine operator at Dubois Wood Products and eventually worked his way into the safety and environmental side of business.

Along the way, he married his wife of 33 years, Kathy. The couple lives in Huntingburg and has three daughters — Katelyn Lemond of Newburgh, Morgan Green of Bretzville, and Weslie-Ann, a senior at Heritage Hills — and three grandchildren.

After working 20 years in the business field, Jeff decided something was missing from his life.

“I just felt like maybe education was where I wanted to be,” he said.

With the support of his parents and Kathy, he went back to school in 2003 and got his teaching license from Oakland City in 2004. With a teaching license in hand, Jeff taught and coached basketball at Mount Vernon for a few years while he pursued an administrative license. In 2008, he earned that license and took a position as assistant principal and athletic director at Eastern Greene High School near Bloomington.

During his first four years in education, his family continued to live in Huntingburg, so there was a lot of driving to and from school. When he heard of the opening at Heritage Hills, he was eager to get a job closer to home.

As assistant principal, Cochren said, he’s spent much of his time at Heritage Hills working with at-risk students, especially those struggling to meet graduation requirements. As principal, Cochren said, he’s looking forward to working more closely with the staff and taking on a larger role within the administration. He plans to continue working with the students, too.

“It truly has been a tremendous experience, seeing how much students grow in high school,” he said. “I really enjoy working with them.”

Cochren is grateful to be inheriting a strong school from Alcorn and doesn’t foresee any major changes coming once he takes the helm. Still, he knows anytime there’s a change in leadership, some changes in school dynamics happen. The main goal, though, will continue to be making decisions that are best for the students and maintaining Heritage Hills’ success. And it will still be all about building relationships.

“I’m a pretty good people person,” Cochren said. “I enjoy building relationships with people.”

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