MARTINSBURG, W.Va. —At least five Berkeley County schools will have new principals when the 2011-12 school year begins Aug. 22.
All five of the new principals were promoted from within the school system.
“This sends a message — that we grow our own in this district as far as educational leaders,” Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said.
Holly Kleppner replaces Ron Stephens at Musselman High School after Stephens was named the new student services executive director for the school district. Kleppner was an assistant principal at the school.
Ron Lyons replaces Don Dellinger at Hedgesville High School after Dellinger took a central office post as an assistant superintendent. Lyons was an assistant principal at the school.
Virginia “Jena” Hinchman was named principal of Bunker Hill Elementary School, replacing Scott Albright. Albright replaced Joyce Chapman as principal of Orchard View Intermediate School. Hinchman was an assistant principal at Tuscarora Elementary School and Eagle School Intermediate.
Amanda Stevens was named principal of Marlowe Elementary School, moving up from Potomack Intermediate School, where she was an assistant principal.
Stevens replaces Sharon Rogers, who was named the first principal of Spring Mills Primary School, which opens this year.
Chapman, 58, who retired this year after working about 36 years in the school system, said this August will be the first one since she entered kindergarten that she will not return to school.
“This August is going to be interesting,” Chapman said. “That is going to be hard.”
When asked for parting advice to the new principals, Chapman said they should give their instructional staff the power to do their jobs, relinquish some of their managerial roles and act as facilitators to help teachers improve.
Chapman said she also would encourage principals to “get out of your office” and spend time in the classrooms to fulfill the duty of being the school’s instructional leader.
Chapman said she wished she had done more of the latter during her career, which included serving as principal of Winchester Avenue Elementary School before opening Orchard View Intermediate in 2002.
Chapman who now works with the West Virginia Center for Professional Development, said she plans to remain engaged in educational issues.
While administrative changes were notable, Arvon said the number of new teachers expected to be hired this year has dropped considerably.
“... the (downturn in the) economy, especially in Maryland and Virginia, has provided us the opportunity to keep our teachers home,” said Arvon, who expects to hire about 75 new teachers this year.
Considering the school district has had to hire 250 or more teachers in years past, Arvon said the hiring situation has been great this year, if not the best in his tenure.
As of Aug. 1, the school district had hired 70 teachers, according to Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Hough and Arvon. There are about 1,400 instructional staff members employed by the school district, Arvon said.
Hough noted last week that most of the openings that still need to be filled are special-education positions.
“It is still a challenge to find highly qualified applicants in special education,” Hough said. “We have been fortunate this year in filling positions in other content areas with highly qualified applicants.”
New teachers are expected to be welcomed at the annual new teacher institute on Aug. 15 and 16.
In Jefferson County, administrators didn’t have to hire any new principals and also have had less trouble hiring new teachers than in past years, human resources coordinator Dale Shaffer said.
As of midweek, Shaffer said 29 new teachers had been hired, but the school system still faces the challenge of finding highly qualified teachers in special education, math, foreign language, science and English as a second language.
“The recession that our country is currently in, as unfortunate as that is, has helped us in hiring critical-needs teachers,” Shaffer said.
“School systems in states surrounding the Eastern Panhandle, as well as across the country, have made cuts in staff over the last couple of years to meet tighter and tighter budgets,” Shaffer said. “Some of those folks are now working for us.”