Southeast district welcomes new administrators



FERDINAND — The administrative team at Southeast Dubois Schools will welcome two new members this fall when school resumes.

At its meeting this month, the school board approved hiring Cassidy Nalley of Huntingburg to be assistant principal at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School and Maria Sweat of Perry County to be principal of Ferdinand Elementary.

Nalley takes the place of David Welp who stepped down from the assistant principal position at the end of the school year. Sweat takes the place of Tyler Lemen who became principal of Forest Park after former principal Jamie Pund was hired as superintendent of the corporation. Current superintendent Rick Allen will retire at the end of the month.

Cassidy Nalley

Nalley, 36, grew up in Orleans and graduated from Orleans High School in 2001. She received a bachelor’s degree from Oakland City University, then a master’s in social work from the University of Evansville.

Nalley originally planned to become a teacher, but after her undergraduate studies, she found herself working in social work at River Valley Behavioral Health. After she earned her master’s, she worked for several years as a guidance counselor and psychology and sociology professor at Oakland City University while pursuing her doctorate in education and an additional master’s in building administration. While at Oakland City University, she noticed that students weren’t leaving high school fully prepared for college, so she left the university to work as a guidance counselor at South Gibson Schools in the 2018-19 school year.

“It was more of a calling and a passion to pursue than a career chance,” Nalley said of the switch. “I just had a desire to work at a younger age to make sure they have everything they need for higher education.”

Nalley served on several committees at Oakland City University and took on various leadership roles, but the Forest Park post will be her first job as an administrator. She said applying for the position was a ‘no-brainer.”

“You have a very motivated community at the [Southeast Dubois district],” she said.

She’s looking forward to becoming part of that community and building relationships with students, staff and families at Forest Park.

Nalley lives in Huntingburg with her husband, Brent, and their two children, Ryker, 7, and Rhyatt, 2 months.

Maria Sweat

Sweat, 36, grew up in Perry County and graduated from Perry Central High School in 2002. After graduation, she attended the University of Southern Indiana to study education and got her first job out of college at Ekron Elementary in Kentucky. She taught in Kentucky for a year before returning to Perry County where she taught third and sixth grade at William Tell Elementary for seven years. She spent the last five years of her career at Perry Central where she taught fifth and sixth grade before becoming a guidance counselor for the 2018-19 school year.

Sweat held several leadership positions among her peers throughout her career and decided to pursue a master’s in administration after encouragement from the administrators at William Tell.

“They saw me as a leader, so they encouraged me to get in leadership,” she said.

Her new role as principal of Ferdinand Elementary will be her first administrative position, and she’s excited for the opportunity. For Sweat, becoming an administrator is the final step of following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother, Nanette DuPont, was also a teacher and administrator and played a large part in Sweat’s decision to pursue a career in education.

When she starts at Ferdinand Elementary this fall, Sweat will bring her personal philosophy of treating everyone with kindness and compassion and always putting the children first. That philosophy led her to practices such as conscious discipline, which seeks to help them learn from their mistakes, and trauma informed care, which teaches educators to look for the reasons behind a child’s behavior.

She’s also looking forward to working with the Upgrade grant that Ferdinand Elementary recently won from the Welborn Baptist Foundation. The grant awards schools $75,000 over a three year period to be used toward increasing wellness programming in the school and community. Several local schools have won the grant, and Sweat was the Upgrade wellness coordinator at Perry Central.

“I’m really excited to continue to get to work with Upgrade,” she said.

To start, however, Sweat will spend time getting to know the students, staff and community at Ferdinand Elementary.

She lives in Perry County with her husband and three kids.

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