BROOKS - Students and staff members at Brooks Elementary look toward the future with a new school facility opening next year.
They now have a new, experienced leader to help the transition: Cheri Lineweaver, assistant principal at Eastside Middle School since its inception, was selected as the new Brooks principal.
“There’s a lot of good work to be done here at Brooks,” she said.
Lineweaver’s resume includes 25 years of education experience, including 11 years as assistant principal in Bullitt County at Eastside and Mount Washington Middle.
Prior to her tenure in Bullitt, Lineweaver began as a teacher for the Jefferson County Catholic Schools system. She also taught in Tennessee and Florida.
Returning to Louisville, Lineweaver worked for Jefferson County Public Schools as a resource teacher. She credited JCPS for encouraging her to consider an administrative position.
Wanting to experience a smaller school atmosphere, Lineweaver checked into Bullitt County opportunities.
“Bullitt County schools opened their arms to me and were wonderful,” she said.
“When (Lineweaver) was hired, she made a very convincing argument to work in Bullitt County,” said Eastside principal Bonita Franklin. “I took a chance on her, and that was a good thing.”
Lineweaver began as Mount Washington Middle assistant principal under Franklin. She remained Franklin’s assistant throughout that time, joining in the transition from Mount Washington to Eastside.
“That’s very uncommon to work together going on 12 years,” said Franklin. “We’re a good match. She was content. Many want to become principal quickly, but she developed her leadership skills.”
Franklin said Lineweaver’s commitment to Bullitt County and drive for success would benefit Brooks. She credited Lineweaver for assistance with Eastside’s success, most notably earning a Kentucky School to Watch status.
“Cheri was part of the team that pushed us to the status,” Franklin said.
According to Franklin, Lineweaver would always be remembered by Eastside staff as one of the family.
“When you work together for 12 years, with many of the same members on the faculty, it’s truly like a family,” she said. “It’s a little like an empty nest syndrome. Cheri is part of the foundation Eastside was laid on.”
Following years of success working alongside Franklin, Lineweaver decided to venture into her own principal’s position.
“I was ready for a new challenge,” she said. “There were no middle school positions available (in Bullitt County).”
“I was very excited both for her and for Brooks,” said Franklin. “Brooks was also my first principal job and I hold the school very dear to my heart. They are a very family-oriented community and they deserve this.”
Lineweaver applied for the Brooks position in July. She has previous experience at the elementary level, teaching 4th and 5th grades for three years.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Brooks community,” she said. “I heard there were a lot of nice people here.”
Lineweaver literally moved into her new office one day after her selection by the Brooks Site-Based council. She credited interim principal Leslie Hicks and a capable Brooks staff for maintaining school operations.
“As a curriculum coach (for BCPS) Hicks was very helpful,” said Lineweaver. “She helps work with the elementary curriculum. The staff has welcomed me here with open arms and the parents I’ve met have been wonderful.”
Lineweaver is learning day-to-day operations at the elementary level. She said the school’s smaller size was an asset in that regard.
“I’m still getting my feet wet, working individually with teachers,” she said. “I want to get a feel for what they’re doing, the procedures they’re used to.”
Like other schools, test scores are always a hot topic at Brooks. Lineweaver admitted it was an issue she would focus upon.
“We’ve got to work on developing programs,” she said.
One of Lineweaver’s first goals at Brooks was an open-door policy to increase parental participation, making parents feel welcome at all times within the school.
“We can always use an extra set of hands,” she said.
Lineweaver hoped to schedule open house events to meet with all parents.
“We’ll be sending invitations to meet me and to meet our staff,” she said. “We’ll host two events, one in the daytime and one at night. It’s important to build community ties.”
As the principal transitioning Brooks from its current facility to its new location, Lineweaver was excited for an opportunity to have a hand in the process.
“I was involved in the selection process at Eastside,” she said. “I get to pick out the furniture. It’s exciting to help establish the school.”
The biggest change of all for Lineweaver is the love shown by elementary-aged Brooks students.
“They’re an open book,” she said. “They’re always smiling, they give you hugs, they’re thrilled to see you. I’m not used to the little ones coming up and hugging me. Middle school students just don’t do that. It’s been a delightful change.”