WEST MILTON — Milton-Union’s new high school principal Jessica Wenig always knew she wanted to be a principal one day, but she feels lucky to have found a job that’s this much fun.
“I’m just so fortunate,” she said of her new role.
Wenig, who previously served as the high school’s assistant principal, has worked in the district for five years.
“So I’m really happy. I feel like I know the kids and I know the parents, and I definitely know the staff — and that definitely helps,” she said. “The continuity is good.”
The new position still comes with a lot of changes for Wenig, who said she’s enjoying focusing more on the day-to-day running of the school and less on student discipline.
“It’s been really fun to be able to change the role. Because you do have to be a little more stern in the assistant principal position and now I get to have more fun with the kids, be more relaxed,” she said. “It’s been a whole lot of fun, I can’t say that enough.”
Wenig took the new job with several goals in mind, including a focus on “digital citizenship” and defining paths towards college and careers.
“It’s so important in an ever-changing world,” she said. “It’s huge. With social media and everything that’s going on there, I’ve found it so important to teach the kids when it is appropriate to use cell phones and devices.”
It’s been a challenge putting guidelines for phone and internet usage in place, but Wenig said she wants students to be ready for the world after high school, “so when they leave here they’re not just glued to the phone.”
“And hopefully they won’t have arthritis in the thumbs,” she joked.
Another major initiative has been to present clear options for students when they leave high school, whether that’s college or career training, she said.
“It’s really important that we define those two pathways and recognize that not every kid is college-bound and not every kid is career-bound right away,” she said.
In order to help students decide if college is right for them, the district has added six new Advanced Placement courses in addition to College Credit Plus classes.
The high school also offers three satellite courses taught on campus by Miami Valley Career Technology Center instructors, which is important for those students on the career path, Wenig said.
“I want to be able to give kids more than just a diploma when they leave. I want them to have some skills they can use,” she said.
She added that the high school also tries to offer a wide variety of electives that students will actually be interested in.
“Kids are happier about being here and we’ve been able to increase our on-campus enrollment. We’ve been able to keep more of our seniors here by offering higher level AP courses and more electives,” she said. “I want to provide them a good experience.”
Wenig, a Wittenberg University graduate who earned a master’s from the University of Dayton, said she knew from the start of her career that she wanted to be a principal.
Her mother was a college professor and her father worked in business, and she wanted to find something that combined aspects of the two. She said working in school administration offers both the opportunity to instruct and the opportunity to take on a leadership role.
“So I always knew that I wanted to be a principal, which is, I think, weird. Because most people are like, ‘I want to be a teacher and I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,’ but I always knew that teaching was just going to be a stepping stone for me,” she said.
Wenig taught middle school language arts in Dayton Public Schools for several years before taking the assistant principal job at Milton-Union High School.
“I interviewed for this position and I clicked right away with the two principals. And I’ve been here ever since,” she recalled. “It’s great that I have people I really enjoy working with. I’ve been really lucky.”
When she’s not at school, sporting events or student activities, Wenig enjoys spending time exploring the Dayton region with her husband. The couple, who live in Kettering, celebrated their wedding earlier this year.
Reach Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org.