PRINCETON — The next superintendent to lead the Princeton Elementary School District will not be a stranger.
The PES board on Monday unanimously approved a four-year superintendent contract for J.D. Orwig, who currently is the principal at Jefferson Elementary School in the district.
Orwig will begin the new position on July 1, 2021. He will follow the leadership of Tim Smith, who retires in June 2021.
Orwig was present during Monday’s board meeting with his wife, Shelley. Following the approval of his contract, PES Board President Steve Bouslog said the board put a lot of thought and effort into the process of choosing its next superintendent.
“All of us are 100 percent, if not more, confident in your abilities, your commitment, your love of children and your belief in public education,” he said to Orwig.
Smith said it gives him comfort knowing it will be Orwig who follows in his footsteps.
“I know how much he loves this district and how much he cares about the staff, the students and the community as a whole. We really are in good shape,” Smith said.
Orwig is currently serving his 22nd year in education. Of those years, 19 have been spent in the PES District.
Orwig, a Wyanet native, completed his student teaching at PES in the fall of 1997. He then became a teacher’s aide under Smith, who was principal at Lincoln Elementary School in those days.
The following summer, Orwig was hired by former Logan Junior High Principal Bob Jesse as a teacher at the junior high. He served in that capacity for four years, before he said Jesse inspired him to get into educational administration.
After earning his administrative degree, Orwig was hired at Midland School District in Marshall County and was there three years before returning to the PES District in 2005, when the principal position at Logan Junior High School became available. He served as principal at the junior high for nine years before moving over to Jefferson Elementary School, where he’s been principal for the past six years.
Throughout the next year, Orwig will work alongside Smith as he transitions into his new leadership role. He said he looks forward to continuing the relationships he’s established with students, staff, parents and board members.
“While it’s a different role, those familiarities are still there, which is a great comfort for me,” he said.
Orwig is well-known in the district for his strong passion for students and their educational experience. That passion stems from his own early elementary school days when he first knew he wanted to be an educator.
“I’ve always felt like now that I’m older, kids keep me young. I really enjoy what they say, their actions and what they do, and I would say what drives (my passion) is seeing that enjoyment when I’m in conversation with them and seeing the enjoyment that they get out of something funny that I do or they do. It’s something I feel keeps me young and keeps me energetic in the field of education,” he said.
“I’ve really grown to love this district, and this district has been home and a family to me, and one way to ensure I stay with that family is to take the next step with the district.”
Taking on this new role amid the COVID-19 pandemic will no doubt be a test. However, Orwig is prepared to work with local school districts in the area to help navigate the challenges that lie ahead.
“I think as educators, we will feel the negative affects of the gap it’s created for many years to come,” he said. “Not only the gaps in academics, but I believe we will be navigating the financial effects associated with potential loss of property taxes and revenues. That is something, unfortunately, we don’t even know the whole scope of yet.”