Andy Kohl picked for Rock Bridge principal job

Truman High School’s assistant leader to start here July 1.
Friday, April 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:57 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sports, cars, hunting, construction and giving detentions — those are the hobbies Andy Kohl lists on his biography on the Truman High School Web site.

Rock Bridge High School students should hope that another of Kohl’s hobbies is to joke around, because he will soon have control over their detentions.

Kohl accepted the position as the new principal of Rock Bridge offered this week by Phyllis Chase, superintendent of the Columbia Public School District. The post isn’t officially his until the Board of Education passes Chase’s recommendation at its meeting on Monday, but that is usually a formality. “We anticipate that the recommendation will be accepted,” said Chris Mallory, an assistant superintendent for secondary education. Rock Bridge, on the south side of Columbia off Providence Road, has 1,555 students, according to its Web site.

Kohl will succeed Bruce Brotzman, who has an administrative position with a school district in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Kohl’s contract, contingent on the board’s approval, begins July 1. But he is in town today to begin acclimating to his new position. Mary Laffey, director of human resources, said Kohl will spend the morning at Rock Bridge meeting the executive council of teachers at the school, and the afternoon at the administration building learning more about the district and conducting interviews for the position of Rock Bridge’s assistant principal .

Kohl could not be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.

Laffey is thrilled Kohl is coming to Columbia.

“His experiences have given him a maturity of perspective that will allow him to really analyze how he should lead the school,” she said. “Some people wouldn’t — they’d just come in and want to make it their way. I think he’ll really be able to see what a great program Rock Bridge already is and do things to enhance that.”

Kohl, 43, has been an associate principal at Truman High School in Independence, which has 1,700 students, according to the Truman Web site. He is director of the senior class and has been at the school for four years. He and his wife, Susan, have three children: Ryan, Isaac and Maggie.

Gary Bressman, the activities director at Truman, said Kohl is also the director of technology in the building, and his help in infusing technology into the school is only one of the impacts he’s made on the students and staff.

“His personality, who he is as a man and the way he deals with people is what makes him such a great leader,” said Bressman.

Laffey said Kohl’s commitment to instruction and knowledge of block scheduling — that is, longer class periods on alternating days — matched what students, teachers and parents of the school were looking for. She was also impressed with his collaborative approach to professional and personal relationships and his easy-going manner.

“When you meet him, you don’t feel intimidated,” she said. “He smiles so easily; he’s that friendly type of individual.”

Bressman said the people at Truman High School have a strong mix of emotions right now.

“We’re extremely pleased and extremely happy that Andy has the opportunity to lead such a high school,” said Bressman. “But we’re very, very sad at the level of loss coming to Truman.”

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