Hopf appointed principal at NED ElementaryJune 2, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
DUBOIS — As soon as Courtney Hopf of Dubois decided to pursue a career in education, she knew she wanted to teach in the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation.
Hopf grew up in Celestine and graduated from Northeast Dubois High School where her dual credit English teacher, Tara Rasche, inspired her to pursue a career teaching English. Now, Hopf will continue following in her mentor’s footsteps as she takes the helm of Northeast Dubois Elementary School when school resumes this fall.
Hopf began considering making the jump from teacher to administrator about a year ago. The year prior, she’d co-lead a Bible study on the Book of Jonah and committed to following God wherever he may lead. A year later, she began to feel a change coming.
“I could tell that God was calling me to leave the classroom that I love,” Hopf said. “I truly love being an English teacher. Teaching is my passion, but I still kept sensing that God wanted me outside of my classroom and comfort zone.”
With all the change going on within the school district as the school board closed Celestine Elementary and reconfigured the grade levels to fit within three buildings, Hopf thought it seemed like the time to step up. She’d taken 18 credit hours of communications classes at Indiana University while pursuing her master’s degree from Oakland City University and thought those classes — along with her years in the classroom and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction — had given her the skills needed to unify the two elementary schools into Northeast Dubois Elementary. She decided to pursue her administrator license from Oakland City University, and the school board appointed her principal of the elementary school at its May meeting.
Hopf knows there will be challenges as she and her staff work to unify the two elementary schools procedurally and culturally, but she also knows that the foundation of the Northeast Dubois Jeeps was present at both schools. The common identity as Jeeps will be what unifies the two schools.
“When I look at all of our students, I only see Jeeps,” she said. “We have always been a part of the same team, and now, we have the opportunity to be united from the very start.”
She’s optimistic that the transition will go smoothly. She knows the educators at Northeast Dubois are dedicated and good at adapting to change. She saw them at work first as a student, then as an educator herself in the corporation.
Hopf was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois, but moved to Dubois County with her mom and stepfather, Cathy and Leon Schroering, when she was 5. Her father and stepmother, Kevin and Kim Ahlfield, continued living in Southern Illinois. She attended Northeast Dubois schools, as did her stepfather and grandmother, Joan Schroering. Her husband, Nathan, also attended Northeast Dubois, as do the couple’s three children, Avery, 10, Cooper, 6 and Harper, 4.
After graduating high school in 2006, Courtney attended University of Southern Indiana for two and a half years before transferring to West Virginia State University. She and Nathan had married, and he was stationed in West Virginia in the Army. After Nathan finished his seven years in the military, the couple decided to move back to Dubois County and bought a home in Dubois. Courtney taught for one year in Loogootee before a position teaching English opened at Northeast Dubois High School. She applied immediately and was hired. For the last seven years, she’s taught junior English and all the dual credit English and communications classes at Northeast Dubois.
As Courtney prepares to transition from the high school to the elementary school, she knows she’ll miss being in the classroom with students, and she’s disappointed that she’s ending her classroom career outside the classroom due to COVID-19. But she’s also excited to get to meet students earlier in their school careers and be part of fostering their love for learning and the work ethic that will get them through to graduation.
“When I look at what makes a good employee, spouse, or parent, the most important traits always have to do with character,” she said. “We need to help instill values such as hard work ethic, respect, kindness, and perseverance while teaching kids to become critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Knowledge without integrity is a recipe for disaster.”
As the leader of Northeast Dubois Elementary, she plans to create a community where students, staff and parents are all included in the work of nurturing students of character who will be lifelong learners.
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