Change is in the air. In many ways, it's a good change. In other ways, it's sad. For Karen Gerhard, Principal of Ladera Ranch Middle School, it's an exciting and bittersweet change. After the great success and hard work of serving teachers and students, families and the Ladera Ranch community, Mrs. Gerhard is retiring.
The adventure ahead of her includes unlimited family time and the opportunity to watch her grandchildren grow into beautiful little people. It will also allow for time relaxing with her wonderful husband, who also happens be a principal and retiring, without the unrelenting interference of bell schedules.
While Karen Gerhard adjusts to the life of retirement, the community of Ladera Ranch will be adjusting to a campus without Mrs. Gerhard. (This is where the "sad" comes in.) Built in 2003, LRMS has 41 state-of-the-art classrooms, over 60 amazingly dedicated teachers and staff, and shares a beautiful campus with Ladera Ranch Elementary School and the Ladera Ranch branch of the Orange County Library. It's a one-stop-shop for all things learning for its approximately 1200 students. At the heart of it all is Karen Gerhard and she is adored and invaluable.
The teachers love her. They say she leaves her door open, always available to them. She supports their innumerable efforts of raising up middle-schoolers, (which is not an easy task). They say she's motivating and fair, an excellent administrator and that her shoes will be hard to fill.
The parents love her. They say she answers emails and hears their concerns. She has actual solutions to a wide array of issues and presents resources when parents need alternatives. They say she's approachable, friendly and sincerely cares for those kids...each and every one.
The students love her. They say she knows them and talks to them. She looks them in the eye, and not just because many of them are as tall as she is, but because she wants them to feel important. She makes their school a safe and fun place to learn. They say she's a great principal, treats them with kindness and smiles a lot.
So when a big change like this occurs, it's easy to focus on how uncomfortable and scary the unknown is, and how inconvenient that things must change. But the feeling around Ladera Ranch Middle School is different. Students, staff and parents alike are not dwelling. We are celebrating. Celebrating the career of a fabulous principal whose legacy is permanently emblazoned in the hearts and minds of the thousands of students, teachers and parents she met along the way. Congratulations, Mrs. Gerhard. You will be missed but more so, remembered.