By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Many people consider arts and sciences as polar opposites. Trudy Giasi, who has a foot firmly down in each camp, disagrees.
“There is more connection than most people think,” said Giasi who will tae over as Valle Catholic Grade School principal on July 1 “They seem like kind of opposite areas, but the bridges between the two areas are creativity and design. In science and engineering we do a lot of creativity and design and in the arts we also do a lot of creativity and design. So they are highly connected.”
Giasi has spent he past five years as a professor of STEM Education at Southeast Missouri State University.
Her husband Michael is executive director of the Vincentian Marion Youth and the Laboure Exchange, which allowed her to become familiar with the community and with Valle Catholic.
“He has a lot of connections with the school,” Giasi said. “He and Ron Tucker, who is currently vice president of academic affairs (for Valle), were just having a conversation about where Valle is going with arts and with STEM,” she said. “Those two things happen to be my expertise and my background. I came from a P-12 world. Even though I’ve been in higher ed the last five years, I never lost my connection to P-12. That conversation led to more conversations. I thought maybe I was just going to build a partnership or help support Valle in this way, but the more I had discussions with Father Nemeth and with Ron Tucker, the more I felt like I would really like to be part of the community ad help to implement some of these things.”
Giasi is excited to be coming to Valle due to “the direct impact that I can have there, versus in higher ed.”
On the university level, she has had impact, “but it’s a different type of impact. I’m excited to be working in the school, with teachers, with students in that way.”
Things are changing at Valle Catholic. Tucker has only been in his position about a year, while Giasi will join new high school principal Craig Gibbs as fresh faces on campus.
“With this new leadership team at Valle, with Craig Gibbs coming in and we have Ron who’s been there a year, and Father Nemeth, the four of us are going to be able to put our heads together and start to have some great conversations and look at how we can build a cohesive P-12 program,” Giasi said. “A lot of tiems, in schools, we see some things happen at the elementary and other things happen at the middle school and other things happen at the high school. What we really want to do is bring together a beautiful cohesive vertical alignment of curriculum, of programming, of opportunities so that we’re building from the ground-up as students go through the program.”
She said she also wants to give students exposure to various career paths, “so that they have lots of opportunities throughout their time at Valle.”
Giasi also has background in arts and music.
She has served as the coordinator of the Southeast Missouri State University Marching Band Color Guard and has choreographed for various award-winning color guard/winter guard groups and theatrical productions in Missouri and Ohio.
Giasi is also excited to be at a parochial school.
“I had an education in Ohio,” she said. “Even though I’ve worked my whole career in the public education system, I grew up in the Catholic education system and owe a lot of my success to that education. So it’s nice to be coming full circle back around to it.”
She likes the idea of being at a parochial school and in a town where faith has been a cornerstone of the community fro the beginning.
“My faith is very important to me,” she said. “I’m excited to be part of a community where faith is so woven in this particular kind of context. It will be nice to combine my faith with my work.”
Giasi said it is too early to set specific goals.
“Ron Tucker and I have already started to have conversations and throw ideas around,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting moved here and settled in and learning the community. I know a little from my husband being there a couple of years. I’m excited to start meeting people.”