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New headmaster wants to see Heritage Christian continue to grow

Joana Dieterich will be taking over the position of headmaster at Heritage Christian Academy after spending the last 18 years at Parkview Baptist School in Louisiana.

Parkview is the largest independent school in the state of Louisiana and Dieterich said she’s excited to bring her experiences to Picayune as she takes charge of HCA.

Dietrich served as the assistant superintendent at Parkview and this past year the school earned a National Blue Ribbon status through the U.S. Department of Education.

Only one independent school from each state can earn the lofty status, and Dieterich saw it as a sign that it was time to move on to a new project.

“God used that season of my life to prepare me for everything here. I’ve done all I can do (at Parkview) so let me take what I’ve learned and bring it to another place that He was clearly moving and blessing,” Dieterich said.

Dieterich is taking over during an uncertain time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she said the closure of schools helped her make the transition to HCA.

During the day she’d work with faculty at Parkview, then in the afternoon she’d switch gears and focus on HCA whether it be with professional development or working on future plans virtually with HCA staffers.

“It gave us a head start and a launching pad to start next school year because I already had an opportunity to build relationships with the teachers. That was really positive,” Dieterich said.

The challenges facing HCA when it comes to reopening in the fall are the same faced by schools around the country.

Right now there are several plans being formulated to deal with any change in information the pandemic.

The hope is to reopen with traditional classroom settings, but there are contingencies in place if a limit on students per classroom is put in place, or if the school is forced to shut down again.

Discussions have taken place concerning if Wi-Fi hot spots would be an option for children without home Internet access, along with the possibility of providing students with devices that could help them learn from home.

If the school were able to open with traditional classroom sizes, temperature checks of each student would be done prior to them entering the building, along with elongated lunch shifts so that the students can be spread out safely while having lunch.

Dieterich and the HCA staff have been hard at work devising solutions for every possible scenario, but at the end of the day all she wants is for HCA students to not only grow academically, but spiritually as well.

“We want to be putting our students who are academically prepared to go anywhere they want to go, but the most important thing is that when kids leave here they had an opportunity to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ,” Dieterich said.

The long-term plan is full of ambition and hope as HCA continues to grow.

Dieterich said having a strong athletic program and full high school setup is the hope for the future, which in time she hopes will end with HCA earning a National Blue Ribbon status as well.