New Johnstown-Monroe High School Principal Derick Busenburg wants students to know he cares about them, and wants them to succeed.

New Johnstown-Monroe High School Principal Derick Busenburg wants students to know he cares about them, and wants them to succeed.

"I'm here to help them accomplish that in any way that I can," he said.

Classes in the district are scheduled to resume Aug. 26.

Busenburg, 32, comes to Johnstown from the East Knox Local School District in Howard, where he was the athletic director and interim junior-senior high school principal.

In Johnstown, he will lead approximately 525 students and 40 staff members.

Although he didn't officially begin his principal duties until Aug. 1, Busenburg said, he spent a lot of time at the high school in July.

"I've met over half of the staff," he said. "I look forward to working with them and supporting them in any way I can to help them help kids."

Busenburg, a 2001 East Knox and 2005 Kenyon College graduate, said Johnstown is an exciting place to be with high student involvement in extracurricular activities as well as the new building project and renovation.

"When you look at the extracurricular involvement at the high school, I don't know if there's other schools that have that involvement," he said. "There's something going on there."

There are 200 students in the band and 70 kids on the football team, Busenburg said.

"Three quarters of the students here are involved in an extracurricular activity," he added.

The Mount Vernon resident said football games require a lot of coverage by school district personnel, and he plans to attend home games.

"I would like to pick another event every week like a golf or cross country meet to watch those kids compete," Busenburg said.

"That's one way to show the kids you care. I may go home and grab my kids. One thing they asked me was if they could still go to games."

Busenburg and his wife, Jessi, are the parents of Zach, 6, and Alex, 3. The couple are expecting with another son with a due date this month.

Busenburg said community engagement also attracted him to Johnstown.

"It's a close-knit community," he said. "I know Johnstown supports its school and its students.

"The longer I'm here, the more excited I am to be here. Johnston has a lot of great opportunities for kids. It's a place I want to be."

As for curriculum, Busenburg said, Johnstown is doing some student-centered things that are appealing.

"I felt, personally, it was finally an opportunity to be an instructional leader," he said. "You don't get that everywhere."

New this school year, Busenburg said, is the creation of an ACT prep class that will be available to all students in the high school.

"The creation of this course reflects the commitment of the board and the staff to ensure that our students are well prepared when they leave JHS," he said.

"I haven't been able to find another school in the area who is offering an ACT prep class, so I think that we are in front of the curve on this one."

Building projects

Busenburg said building projects, including renovation of the high school to a middle school and the construction of a new high school, will require a great deal of patience and flexibility from students and staff.

"There will be interruptions, inconveniences and projects likely will run over schedule," Busenburg said.

"That's what we're expecting. Were trying to expect the unexpected. It will require patience and flexibility from teachers and students."

He said he is hopeful it will be easier for people to focus and be adaptable, knowing that a new building is on the way.

Busenburg said he offers "stick-with-it-ness," spending 10 years at East Knox schools.

"I can stick around at a place awhile," he said. "I've had the same car 14 years and the same woman 17 years."

His wife is treasurer of the East Knox school district.

Busenburg started his teaching career at East Knox as a special education tutor then personal finance and economics teacher.

His bachelor's degree from Kenyon is in economics, and he received a master's degree in educational administration from Ashland University in 2011.

Outside of work and family, Busenburg said, he enjoys spending time outdoors whether he's hunting, hiking, mushroom gathering or running.

"I believe he will be a knowledgeable, caring and personable instructional leader full of creative ideas to enhance the learning experience for our high school students," said Dale Dickson, J-M superintendent.

New teachers

In addition to Busenburg, the high school welcomes three new teachers to it staff for the 2015-16 school year.

Alicia Guess will be teaching Spanish. She comes to J-M with five years of experience teaching foreign language in Massachusetts. Her husband was relocated to Columbus, and they live in New Albany, Busenburg said.

The new physical science teacher is Pickerington resident Michael Molloy, a first-year teacher and Ohio State University graduate.

Teaching ninth- and 10th-grade English will be Marissa Ballard. She's in her third year of teaching and comes to Johnstown from East Knox schools.

She's a Mount Vernon resident and graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University.