Geibel principal leads with heart and mind

Geibel principal leads with heart and mind

In his heart, Robert Fetter feels he was truly called to serve as principal at Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Connellsville.


Known to all as Bob, Fetter became an educator in 2012 as a second career, after more than a decade as a local journalist. He earned multiple education credentials from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, including his state certification for English instruction, followed by two master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction, and supervision and administration. This year, he also obtained his state certification in administration for prekindergarten through 12th grade. 


Fetter has taught students in public school districts ranging between sixth and 12th grades at Hempfield Area School District and Greater Latrobe School District where he lives. Most recently, Fetter taught English at a charter school. This role, he said, had both profound challenges and emotional payoffs – which ultimately led Fetter to consider a leadership role as a way to reach more students.


“There are a lot of rewards, because you are often one of the few or only positive adults in these children’s lives,” he explains. “This lack of support at home could lead to students severely struggle and I believed as an administrator I would have the opportunity to help more children succeed.” 


As Fetter sought out a leadership role, he searched in both public and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Greensburg, where he is a member of St. Vincent Basilica and serves on the parish council. It was his interview at Geibel, however, that felt special. During his final interview with Greensburg Diocese school administrators, three Geibel teachers joined in and connected with Fetter in a meaningful way. 


“I really hit it off with them because they asked really thoughtful questions,” Fetter said. “They put in time and consideration into getting to know me as a candidate, because you could tell they really cared about their school.”


Fetter now shares their passion for Geibel and is committed to breathing new life and energy into the school community, including connecting with alumni. 


“There has been some turnover in recent years and I aim to establish stability,” Fetter said. “My goal is to not only learn the flow of the year as an administrator, but to formulate good plans to elevate enrollment, and find the right team to launch the right kind of fundraising that will move our school forward.”


Fetter says he has the full support of his wife and five children, who range in age from 13-19, as he becomes principal. 


“I want to put everything I have into Geibel and they are completely behind me,” he says of his family. 


Fetter has already completed a meet and greet with staff, which produced an “awesome” turnout, as well as an ice cream social for families that filled the cafeteria with a welcoming crowd. 


“A couple of things that people will find out about me early is that my decisions will be very thoughtful and that they will feel my heart in everything that I do,” Fetter says. “I want to foster making our school community feel like a family, and I feel the seeds are planted with our current families and proud alumni base.”


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