The Pupil Becomes the Principal

Jennifer Potter, a former WBHS student and assistant principal, makes an enthusiastic return

By Katie Gloyd, Current Staff

Two months into the school year, students at the West Bend High Schools suddenly had a new principal.

Jennifer Potter became the WBHS executive principal Nov. 1, joining an administrative team with many new faces. She replaces Dr. Randy Daul, who had been serving on an interim basis since the start of the school year. Daul will stay at WBHS throughout the year to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

The Current spoke with Potter about her past, why she came home to WBHS and what it’s like to arrive at a school midway through first semester.

Why did you accept this position?
I accepted this position for a number of reasons. I went to high school here. I worked here as an assistant principal. I’m fully invested in this community, and the students and staff here. And I loved, loved, loved my time here as an assistant principal, so when I saw the opening come up, I actually thought it was a long shot. I thought, you know what? I’ll throw my hat in the ring. I just went for it, and I couldn’t be happier that it turned out this way. It’s been a really exciting, wild adventure, but I’m glad that I’m here.

What did you do before becoming a member of the West Bend High School administration?
I was the principal at Green Tree Elementary School. I have been there since 2019. Before that, I was the assistant principal at West High School for two years, starting in 2017. Before that, I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, where I had most of my teaching career. Then, when I accepted the position at West Bend as an assistant principal, I was working as a national school reform consultants coach. I was working with schools across America who needed significant school improvement. I would travel a lot, and it was really exciting and exhausting. Then I saw an opportunity to get into the West Bend school district and be back with family. So I went for it, and here I am.

How do you think your past roles at the high school impact your role here now?
I’m very invested in it. I think that a big part of why I accepted this position is because of my background here, as both a student and a staff member. I look at this like every day is an opportunity to build something more in a positive direction. My goal is that every student feels like they belong here. A lot of the work that I’m talking about is really kind of targeting the freshman group right now. How do we make sure we capture the best experience for them early, so that their whole high school experience is good? I wasn’t somebody who had that experience. It took me a while to find my footing as a student here. I actually went into writing when I got to college, but my experience here didn’t foster that, per se, until I was about a senior. That’s when I realized what I really liked to do, and this whole new world opened up to me. I want that world to open up a little sooner for our students.

What are the benefits or challenges of entering this position mid-semester?
One benefit is that Dr. Daul, who was here as the interim principal, really got off to a steady pace starting the school year. He really came to build systems that I could easily transition into. He’s been a great model and a great coach for me going into this. So, I think the benefit is that somebody started with the same vision as to where I would have started the year, and I can step into that pretty successfully with him. The assistant principals are already in motion, and have a frame for their expectations, their responsibilities, what they see and what they plan to do in their work this year as well. I’m coming in more as a layer of support, I think, this year, then slowly starting to find the traction for the big push. I think the challenge was leaving the elementary school staff and students, especially mid-year. Let’s just say I cried a lot. It was hard to say goodbye.

What are you most excited about, moving forward?
I think that there is so much here that is good, and I am just blown away learning all of the different things that high school has to offer. Especially looking through the lens when I was a student here to what is available now. Then bringing in more ideas to explore and expand. Students have opportunities beyond their wildest dreams. I feel like it’s the cliche to say the sky’s the limit, but I feel like that’s sort of where we’re at right now at West Bend, and I want to be able to tap into every potential opportunity that we can for the students.

(Top image: Executive principal Jennifer Potter at work today at the West Bend High Schools. Photo taken by Katie Gloyd, Current Staff.)

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