The last month has focused on getting to know his colleagues and the school’s culture so Uecker can set his sights on continuing the institution’s mission and leaving his own mark on the campus.
“A quality education was being delivered here with a Christian perspective,” Uecker said of Covenant Day. He doesn’t anticipate that to change anytime soon.
Uecker has interacted with high school students since before he was a professional educator. He coached high school basketball and tennis while in college and graduate school, but did not originally intend to pursue education. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology and kinesiology and a master’s in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois with the goal to become a therapist, but ultimately chose education as his career path and took a job at Great Hill Christian School in Cedar Park, Texas, where he served as a teacher and dean of students. Uecker later returned home to Virginia, where he served as high school principal and a teacher at Norfolk Christian school.
“I had everything to learn in my principalship,” Uecker said regarding the Norfolk position. The role taught him how to effectively lead a school and set him on the path to where he is today.
“Leadership is very much about relationships and building trust and working alongside people,” he added.
Uecker implemented a program in Norfolk where students went on trips, participated in internships and took classes normally not offered, during a two-week period. Some students took non-traditional courses, such as riflery, refereeing, pottery or chemistry of chocolate.
“I think there were some schools that I respected with such a program,” he said, adding he considered his students’ real world experiences as “real world learning.”
Uecker left Virginia in 2011 to pursue a principal position in North Haledon, New Jersey, at Eastern Christian School, where he remained until moving to Matthews.
“New England was a cultural shock for me,” Uecker said about his northern surroundings. Uecker had to get used to a more private population and the metropolitan area, but experienced a personal progression along the way.
“I continued to grow a lot professionally. I really enjoyed working with my colleagues. I just continued to learn a lot,” Uecker said.
Uecker hopes to continue his growth at Covenant Day. He has no specific plan set, but hopes to work with colleagues to create a strategy before the start of the school year.
The new principal enjoys Covenant Day’s high-level partnership with parents and wants to instill a sense of mission and life commitment in students, he said. Uecker looks forward to seeing his students grown and learn and see his students’ “minds grow in character and in academia,” he added.