By William for

LITTLE RIVER – With this profile of the People of Education in McPherson County – we focus on AUDREY HERBST, Principal of Little River Junior/Senior High School.

So many folks work hard at making the educating of our future generations work, that we feel it is important to know who they are and get to know a little bit about them, their job, their background and what makes them tick in making their work within their school district tick.

(A side note here – while Little River technically does not sit within the boundaries of McPherson County, we consider it one of the county districts due to the number of students of which attend there but live in McPherson County. Plus, they are combined with the old Windom School District and Windom Elementary School is part of Little River USD 444.)


Audrey Herbst is not originally from the Little River area, but she did grow up just north of Great Bend and graduated from Hoisington High School in 1992.

After high school Herbst headed south to Wichita and graduated from Newman University in 1999 before eventually earning a master’s degree in Building Administration from Fort Hays State University. She eventually added an ESOL Endorsement from Kansas State University so that she could teach English to Speakers of other Languages.

As of June 10, 2017, Herbst combined two families together when she married Chris Herbst, a sales representative at Long McArthur Ford in Salina. Together they have seven children – Courtney, Tyler, Derek, Corbin, Alyssa and Breckin, plus a new daughter-in-law who was recently married to Tyler. Alyssa, Corbin and Breckin are the youngest of the seven and all three currently attend school with Little River USD 444. Alyssa is a senior in high school while Corbin is a freshman and Breckin is in sixth grade and attending Windom Elementary.


Herbst and her husband love to boat and fish in various places, noting that she can’t always say where because a true fisherman never divulges where the best catches are.

While Herbst enjoys attending athletic events where Corbin plays football, basketball and track, the family enjoys trying their best to make memories as a group and they enjoy visiting all the kids and traveling.

The Herbst family is planning a special family vacation this year during Christmas break where in lieu of gifts they will be enjoying some warm and sunny weather on South Padre Island with the hopes of getting their first taste of deep-sea fishing.

During her along time, Herbst enjoys reading and learning all that she can about current research-based practices in education.


            It has been a true journey of sorts for Audrey Herbst to get from high school in Hoisington to becoming the Principal at Little River High School.

As previously mentioned, Herbst earned her bachelor’s degree from Newman University in 1999, after which she became fifth-grade teacher in Ellinwood, Kansas for three years before moving a few miles west to teach sixth grade at Riley Elementary in Great Bend for five years before transitioning to a mathematics instructional coach for another six years. During her time period working as an instructional coach she received her master’s degree in Building Administration from Fort Hays State University and the ESOL Endorsement from Kansas State University. During that same time period, Herbst also developed a partnership with Newman University to teach ESOL coursework to K-12 teachers so they could acquire their certifications.

At this point of her career travels in education, Herbst taught for two years on the campus of Fort Hays State University in the Elementary Teacher Education Department while developing curriculum for undergraduates to attain an ESOL minor. She was then made an offer to move to Liberal for two years where she served as an assistant principal of a PK-2nd Grade Building followed by a time as an assistant principal at Liberal High School. During her time in Liberal she continued to remain as an online instructor for Fort Hays State.

Wanting to move back to the Central Kansas area, Herbst accepted an opportunity to serve as principal of Little River Junior/Senior High School, where she is now in her fifth school year.

Eventually the hobby of being a life-long learner led Herbst to acquiring her district leadership license from Wichita State University in July of 2018 and a doctorate degree from Kansas State University in April of 2019 with an emphasis in assisting high school graduates to attain postsecondary credentials.


            As principal of not only a smaller high school, but a junior/senior high school combination, Herbst remembers daily that she wears many ‘hats’.

While she feels her strength is instructional leadership with regards to curriculum, career and technical education as well as what she calls STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

Is there anything difficult about being principal? Herbst claims it is managing the multitude of responsibilities that fall upon a small school principal.

She reminded us that in addition to being an instructional leader, she must also oversee maintenance, technology, professional development, budgets, athletics and activities, special education, assessment and data, daily operations, networking with outside entities, support the social-emotional well-being of students, devise schedules, evaluate staff and her least favorite part of the job – student discipline.


According to Herbst, the most favorite thing about her position as principal of Little River Junior/Senior High School is seeing the ‘smiles’ on the students faces when they see they have a ‘choice’ and can develop a relevant learning experience that will benefit them in the future. Helping to provide students with opportunities and experience to support a productive future after high school is what we are passionate about as a KSDE designated Gemini I redesign school.

Herbst is also very adamant about her passion and top priority of making sure all students are in a safe and productive learning environment.

When looking toward the future of Little River Junior/Senior High School, Herbst says they need to promote Kansans Can School Redesign to develop innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century who will demonstrate necessary employability, technical, and critical thinking skills.

“Our emphasis as a staff is to provide the necessary skill training and development to ensure our vision that ‘each Little River student will be a well-rounded individual ready to contribute to society’,” pointed out Herbst.

In order to accomplish that vision, Herbst said it is necessary to ensure we receive the proper guidance, professional development, and include students as they personalize relevant learning experiences.

According to Herbst, it is also necessary to engage with community and local resources to facilitate a learning experience for our students that provide ‘hands-on’/’real-world’ experiences.

She acknowledges that she is surrounded by a great staff and community while supporting the great works they do together as it is very rewarding.

Herbst gets excited when talking about the students, pointing out how they have great opportunities with 11 CTE pathways, a HOSA chapter, and an FFA chapter in addition to internships and higher education programs. She adds that her students are very involved with a multitude of activities to choose from ranging from athletics, to trap shooting, to theater, to scholar’s bowl, to forensics and debate, to band and choir, and to various art competitions.

There is always something for everyone at Little River Junior/Senior High School, with the key being the ability to tap into student interests and helping them establish a seamless matriculation into college, vocational and careers.

FINAL THOUGHTS – In Audrey Herbst own words:

Herbst responded to our question about what is the most rewarding of working within Little River USD 444, she noted, “The most rewarding aspect of my position is the support from our local community and the numerous learning opportunities afforded to our students through that community support.”

When asked about her upcoming plans for the future, Herbst answered by saying, “I am enjoying my position as a principal. One plan that I am looking forward to is continuing to publish and perhaps write an educational book. I have been invited to write in an educational publication for Kansas State University with our leaders from KSDE. I am looking forward to that and am hopeful it will provide insight into our Kansas Can journey within our mission as ‘Kansas will lead the world in the success of each student’.


There you have it everyone, an introduction and insight to yet another of our many strong, faithful and positive administrative leaders found within the many fine and outstanding school districts of the greater McPherson County area.

Principal Audrey Herbst sets the tone for quality, dedication and love of education as she leads the staff and students of Little River Junior/Senior High School. Her leadership and caring personality means the next generation of students will have a bright future.

We always encourage all, within the greater Little River community and beyond, to give Audrey Herbst a greeting, a smile and a hearty thank you for her willingness to push her Little River Junior/Senior High School staff, students and parents to the next levels of educational and personal success.

(Copyright@2019 by CrossDove Writers. No copy or reuse of this article can be made without written permission from CrossDove Writers or their writers.)

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