In the Diocese of Jefferson City, there are 37 Catholic Elementary Schools, four of them hiring new principals for the 2018-2019 school year. Of those four principals, two are alumni of St. Joseph Catholic School in Martinsburg. One of the principals, Mike Aulbur, is taking over St. Pius X in Moberly. The son of Bill and Jean Aulbur, parishioners of St. Joseph in Martinsburg, graduated from St. Joseph in 1981. Mike received his bachelor’s degree from Central Methodist University in Fayette and his master’s from the University of Phoenix. He has taught in northern Missouri since graduating college, beginning with his student teaching job at New Franklin, then teaching at Cairo for nine years and Westran for 18 years. He has taught physical education and has been the head boys’ basketball and baseball coach for most of his years of teaching. He ended his public school education role as K-8 assistant principal for two years and middle school principal for 10 years before taking on the principal role at St. Pius X.
A lot of Mike’s own teachers from St. Joseph influenced his desire to become an educator. Sister Luella Busman was one of those that he admired the most, saying that she made education fun. She also instilled in him the love of organized sports by her organization of sporting activities for PE and recess at SJS. Also, among those who have influenced Mike was Father John Walsh. He was one of the priests at St. Joseph Catholic Church during Mike’s time as a student and mass server, and after leaving Martinsburg, was pastor at St. Johns in Laddonia where he presided at Mike and his wife, Sandy (Hoyt) Aulbur’s wedding on July 21, 1990.
Mike and Sandy were high school sweethearts, both raised on farms just miles apart. Sandy’s parents, Ted and Mary Lou Hoyt are members of St. Johns Church in Laddonia. Ted also attended St. Joseph School in Martinsburg. Mike and Sandy have three children. Tyler is a strength and conditioning coach at William Woods where he is working on his master’s, Jordan is a science teacher at Marceline, and Alicia is a sophomore at Columbia College. Sandy recently celebrated her 30-year anniversary working at Columbia Surgical Associates in Columbia.
When asked what has kept Mike and his family close to the Catholic faith at a time when many have fallen away from churches, Mike said that his faith as well as Sandy’s was instilled in them by their families when they were young, and they were fortunate St. Pius X Parish in Moberly was such a welcoming place where they enjoyed raising their three children. “The most important part of our lives has been our Catholic upbringing.” he said.
Mike also said Father Mike Coleman was a great influence in their lives when their son was battling a medical condition, and he looks forward to working with Fr. Phil Niekamp, current pastor of St. Pius X.
Mike’s goal at St. Pius X is to adjust to coming from public education to the Catholic school environment to give children the best education and teach the Catholic faith, as well as increase enrollment and improve the climate of the school.
While Mike was graduating high school at Community R-VI in 1985, one of the other new principals from the Diocese of Jefferson City was graduating from St. Joseph Catholic School in Martinsburg. Mrs. Michelle Hombs will begin the 2018-2019 school year as principal of St. Joseph School. She officially accepted the position in the spring of 2018 after she had been serving as the acting principal since the unexpected passing of Randy Struck in August 2017. Mrs. Hombs is no stranger to the Martinsburg community of St. Joseph parish. She’s been a teacher with the school, first as the resource teacher and then as 3rd and 4th teacher since 2009. However, Mrs. Hombs’ journey at St. Joseph began long before her teaching career, she is a proud alumni of the school graduating during the school’s centennial in 1985. She is married to her husband Darren and they have three teenagers Adam, Eric, and Emma, who also graduated from St. Joseph’s. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Missouri in Columbia and is working on her graduate degree through William Woods University in Fulton. She is the daughter of Richard and Sandra Primus, also of St. Joseph Parish.
Mrs. Hombs will serve as only the third lay principal since the school’s beginning in 1885. One of her biggest influences in deciding on the field of education was her part-time 5th grade teacher, Sister Pat. She was very active and not only challenged her students, but went out of her way to build a relationship with each one of them.
She also contributes the closeness she has with her faith to the support and inspiration from her family and her strong Catholic community here at St. Joseph. She feels very fortunate for the blessings she has received. The St. Joseph Parish and School community is exceptionally proud of the impact our graduates are making in lives of service in our community, diocese, country, and around the world! For more information about St. Joseph Catholic School, contact the school at 573-492-6283.