The Seymour school board didn’t have to look far to find the next principal of Seymour Middle School.
J.B. Royer, 42, already was serving as dean of students at the school, a position he has held for the past 10 years. Before that, he served as a science teacher.
School board trustees approved Royer’s promotion to the school’s top leadership position during a special meeting Thursday night. He will oversee both the middle school and the sixth-grade center. The buildings have a combined enrollment of 1,078 students in sixth through eighth grades and around 60 teachers.
His contract will be for two years and will pay an annual salary around $91,000. The actual amount of the contract has not yet been approved by the school board.
Before the meeting, trustees conducted second interviews with three candidates. The school corporation received 15 applications for the job, Superintendent Rob Hooker said.
Royer replaces Doug McClure, who resigned this month to become principal of Brownstown Central Middle School. McClure had served as principal of SMS for six years.
“Doug and I shared a lot of the same visions, so I know the path we were on,” Royer said. “We do have some differences in leadership styles, so I won’t do everything the same. But I think ultimately, we are going to end up where we want to be.”
And that is becoming a school where students and parents want to be, Royer said.
“My main goal is to make it a welcoming place to both adults and students,” he said. “My dream is for students to want to come here and enjoy coming here to learn.”
Royer said he is excited about the challenges of being a principal and said it was a way to get more involved.
“I love this community. I love this school. And I thought it was time for me to step up and make a bigger difference,” he said.
Since he’s already familiar with the school’s staff, Royer said, it will be an easier transition for everyone.
“I think we have a great team, and I’m looking forward to working with them in this capacity to reach every student at the middle school and help them be successful,” he said.
Middle school is an important step in getting students prepared for high school, Royer added, and he wants to work more closely with the elementary schools and the high school to get on the same path of moving kids forward to success.
He said his goals include improving students’ standardized test scores and helping improve the high school graduation rate.
“We set the foundation for them to go to the high school,” he said. “It makes me proud to see our students graduate.”
Royer said he doesn’t plan to make any drastic changes, but he has some ideas he’s working on, such as family fun nights, to get more parents involved at the school.
Some of the biggest challenges the school will face this coming year are staffing and technology, he said.
Recent retirements at the school include longtime administrative assistant Mary Sheppard and math teacher Wayne Huddleston, who had 40 years of service.
“That’s a lot of knowledge and wisdom we’ve lost,” Royer said. “But we’ll be bringing in new staff and working to keep up our drive in the classroom.”
The school also will be moving to 1:1 technology, where every student will be issued a laptop-style computer to use for homework, projects and research.
Royer said he plans to continue and build upon the school’s program of rewarding students for positive behaviors. The school uses Owl Bucks, which students can use to purchase items at the Owley Galley store.
“Students can earn something for their hard work and good deeds,” Royer said. “It helps our kids and gives them something to work for. But we are going to come up with some new and improved ideas to reward students for their academics and behavior.
“The more positive we make it, the better outcomes we’ll get.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”J.B. Royer” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: J.B. Royer
Position: New principal of Seymour Middle School
Experience: 12 years with Seymour Community Schools; 10 years as dean of students and two years as a science teacher; seven years teaching science at Brown County Junior High School.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in science education from Indiana State University; master’s degree in science and biology from Indiana State University; and completed a three-year administrative program at Indiana University Southeast
Family: Wife, Kelly Royer; children, Evan, 9, and Camden, 3.