Herink new leader of Meskwaki school

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT – For several years, Jill Herink worked for Jerry Stephens calling him a great mentor in her professional life.

This past month, she took his former job as Herink is the new superintendent of Meskwaki Settlement School following Stephens’ retirement.

“Jerry has been an excellent leader,” Herink said.

Herink is a former Marshalltown High School teacher while Stephens was MHS principal. She moved onto to become a principal at Meskwaki before being elevated to her superintendent role.

The Marshalltown resident said Native American education seems to be a good fit for her professionally and it’s a field she enjoys.

“It’s a great community feel here,” Herink said. “We have excellent family participation in athletics, open houses and cultural events. I enjoy the Native American education system.”

The cultural aspect is one thing that sets the Meskwaki school curriculum apart from other school districts. Each day students learn about the Sac & Fox Tribe (Meskwaki Nation) in a culture class that deals with history, language, music, dancing and other important information about the tribe.

Currently, Meskwaki school has 325 students enrolled from 3 year olds on up through high school.

“It’s been growing every year,” Herink said.

One of the reasons for the growth is the new high school, which opened in 2009.

The operational funding is not typical of a school district in Iowa as Meskwaki school gets 80 percent of its funding federally from the Bureau of Indian Education and 20 percent from the tribe.

Herink said she will soon receive her superintendent license from the University of Northern Iowa.

She said Meskwaki has highly-qualified teachers, a supportive tribe, school board and tribal council.

As she looks to the future, Herink said she has three main goals.

She wants to provide more upper level courses for students, increase the fine arts offering and continue to expand the cultural programs at the school.