By Blythe Alspaugh
COVINGTON — Dr. Joseph Hoelzle was inspired to pursue education from an eighth grade teacher who took his ambition seriously.
“He asked me what I wanted to be, and I’m not sure if I was serious or sarcastic, but I told him I wanted to be a teacher and he showed me a lot of patience and encouraged me and told me that I’d be good in that role. From there, the more I thought about it, there’s a lot of good things about going into the education career field,” Hoelzle said.
Hoelzle was recently hired as superintendent of Covington Exempted Village Schools, coming into the tight-knit community from serving as principal of Tri-County North Local Schools for the last six years — starting out as principal for 6 through 12 grade in 2016 and moving to principal for 5 through 8 grade in 2018. Previously, he has served as principal for 7 through 12 grade at Hardin Northern Local Schools in Dola, and taught social studies including dual enrollment courses at Hopewell Loudon Local Schools in Bascom. He has previously served in roles such as senior class advisor, head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Hopewell Loudon, and helped introduce choir and drama programs back to Tri-County North.
For Hoelzle, working in education is instrumental in keeping a person young and seeing the impact they have on the students they interact with day-to-day. He describes it as a career where a person can feel a purpose and the impact they make each day.
“You see how an encouraging word, or how being there for a kid who is struggling really impacts them. I’ve talked to teachers since I’ve been here at Covington, and they say that they’ve run into kids at the grocery store who have graduated five, 10 years ago, and they come up and want to tell them how they’re doing. That’s a highlight for any educator,” Hoelzle said.
With Covington being a smaller community with a very student-focused environment, Hoelzle felt it would be a good fit not just for him, but his family, especially because it has allowed him to remain close to his relatives. He said that in the short time he has been at Covington Schools, he’s learned that the community is passionate about the students and the schools, which falls right in line with his priorities as a leader in education.
“There are people who are 60, 70 years old who have a vested interest to make sure that this is a good community school, and I think that makes it a desirable place to be because there are so many people that support, and love, and want the school to do well,” Hoelzle said. “It’s not so corporate as much as it is, I value you as a person, and you’re so-and-so down the street, and you’re related to so-and-so — I think your ability to know people and get things done, I feel like you can be more effective in a small school.”
Hoelzle said that he wants the students coming into the 2022-2023 academic year to know that he wants Covington Schools to be a place where people feel welcomed, where people are able to pursue their passions and where people are able to learn and work and be set up for success and happiness in their lives.
“I want this to be a place that prepares you for that happy, successful life, and to do that, I think you need to find your own passion but you also need to feel that you belong here,” Hoelzle said. “(For parents), let’s work together, let’s partner (…) to make sure your child has a great experience.
The 2022-2023 academic year for Covington Exempted Village Schools begins Tuesday, Aug. 23. An open house will be held at the schools from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22.