Monday, Oct 23, 2017

New principal takes over at St. Joseph

Gregory Wilhelm, originally from Evansville, Ind., has been selected to be principal of St. Joseph Catholic School at 201 N. Division St.

Wilhelm was an elementary teacher in Evansville for 34 years where he taught all subjects, with math being his favorite.

“Math is interesting, and I loved it when the kids understood the subject matter. I especially enjoyed watching the ‘lights go on’ (on their faces) when they ‘got it,’” he said.

He coached wrestling and boys and girls golf through the years and said, “Kids keep me young.”

In 2004 until this year, Wilhelm was principal of St. James Catholic School, Belvidere. Even though Wilhelm was considering retirement, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Rockford Diocese Michael Kagan approached him to take the helm at St. Joseph, and he accepted.

When asked about his goals for the coming year, Wilhelm said, “St. Joseph’s teaches kindergarten and grades one to eight. Presently, there are about 70 children enrolled for the 2014 school year, but my main goal is to help that enrollment increase. At our present census, it has been efficient to teach kindergarten alone, but to combine first and second, third and fourth, fifth and sixth, and seventh and eighth grades. Each two grades have one teacher. Our school building can accommodate about 150 students, and, when nearing that number, I would like to separate the classes.

“It is a good little school with good teachers. The structure was built in 1916, so it is not the newest or fanciest building, but it’s what goes on in the building with kids and teachers that makes a good school,” Wilhelm said.

Knowing the importance of increasing enrollment and the challenges present in the 98-year-old building, Kagan said, “And even though Greg’s career is winding down, I chose him to lead St. Joseph because the school needed an experienced principal, and he’s been through the wars. Greg is the best person for this job.”

The 2014 school year will begin Sept. 2, the same as the public school system. Ninety-eight percent of St. Joseph’s school calendar runs in conjunction with Harvard public schools.

For information about enrolling at St. Joseph Catholic School, stop by the school office, call 815-943-6933 or visit www.stjoeharvard.org.