A twist of fate brought Jim Church back to the role of high school principal just as he was preparing to enter retirement.
"We were looking forward to traveling," Church explained plans he and his wife Brenda made. "We had the pickup and the fifth-wheel trailer all ready for the Harley when the call came."
Church replaced Ken Wallace as the new Northview High School Principal on Oct. 1, delaying travel plans for something he truly loves - working with children.
Growing up in Coalmont, Ind., Church hadn't planned on a career in education when he entered the Navy straight out of high school. But being a musician in the Navy band led Church to study music and complete counseling certification and administration studies at Indiana State University.
In 1965, at the U.S. Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Church began his teaching career and developed a desire to help troubled students. That desire is even stronger today.
"It's not the job that is important, it's the people," Church said, explaining an maxim he was told at the beginning of his career. "I didn't get it when I was younger, but with age comes understanding."
In 1986, Church had a life-changing revelation that brought him closer to God and the students he hoped to help. As Director/Founder of Little David's Home for Young Men and Crusaders Against Drugs, Church spent seven years working with troubled youth, many of whom had no home.
"Seven years of working with street kids taught me that there is worth in every one of God's creations, including dandelions," Church said. "There is beauty in that little unwanted weed if you look close enough, and the same goes for the most unwanted of our society."
In 1997, Lynn Romas, then principal of Northview High School, contacted Church about the Dean of Students position at the school. Having worked together before, Romas was certain that Church was right for the position that dealt with troubled students.
"I knew how well he could relate to students," said Romas, who replaced Church this fall as the acting Assistant Principal in Discipline. "He has a special talent for helping students that have all types of problems."
The students and staff at Northview are the reason Church looks forward to coming to work every day.
"The families of this area have raised some great kids," said Church, who believes respect is the number one issue students and teachers face today. "I may not know every student's name, but I respect each and every one of them. The standard of good manners and morals for many young people are slipping away. Some have little respect for others, and least of all for themselves."
Identifying with the pain and struggle in many student's lives, and dealing with a recent heart surgery that impressed upon him how precious each day is, Church wants to encourage others to understand the importance of respect in daily life.
"We only have today, and should be thankful that we have many talents that can help others," Church said. "Dandelions are just as important as the roses."