Thursday, December 18, 2003

Homecoming is happy for principal at Nativity

By Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Principal once again, Bob Herring greets students Wednesday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
Nativity School Principal Bob Herring began his first day back at work Wednesday giving early-morning interviews to TV news crews in front of the school.

Then, at a 7:30 a.m. welcome back celebration put on by parents and students, he got tips from a parent on where to stand. Traci Hermann of Pleasant Ridge told him to take his usual place, near the playground, where he typically greets students.

"It's been weird in the playground," she told him. "The kids just want to see you. You might get mobbed."

Indeed, he did. More than 200 parents and 300 of Nativity's 388 students welcomed their principal with songs, banners, doughnut holes and dozens of warm hugs, a hot commodity in the freezing temperatures.

"It's good to be back," he said.

Students held signs that read "Tuck in your shirt tails. He's back."

Herring, principal of the K-8 Catholic elementary school for more than 19 years, was fired Nov. 24 by Nativity parish pastor Rev. Marc Sherlock over unspecified "philosophical differences."

What followed were several large demonstrations by upset parents, as well as an informal protest that affected church collections on Sundays.

On Monday, after a five-hour mediation session, Herring was reinstated effective Wednesday.

Meg Meuthing, a parent, told the crowd at the school that offerings to the church, which funds the school, dropped by $9,000 since his dismissal, prompting a financial crisis. She called for parents to "step up to the plate" - the collection plate - and double contributions over the next few weeks.

One donor has already written a $3,000 check, she said.


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