In today's high-pressure, gotta-gain-ten-points-now, "my way or the highway" school environment - Jock Gum reminds us all that educators are first and foremost - in the people business.
This from the Herald Leader, photo by David Perry:
On what he hopes is his last first day of school, Jock Gum found himself spending most of his time in meet-and-greet mode.
Parents, teachers and staff at Booker T. Washington Academy were formally introduced to their new principal Wednesday, more than a week after former principal Peggy Petrilli left.
Superintendent Stu Silberman selected Gum to serve as interim principal, in the hope that his people skills will bring the fractured community together.
"He's very down to earth," gym teacher Jerry Smith said. "He makes a point to make sure you're comfortable before he gets down to business. That matters to me." ...
...He introduced himself to part-time and veteran teachers, lunchroom attendants, and every student he encountered in the hallway. He asked cafeteria staff the number of students that bring their own lunches and how many eat cafeteria food. He asked Smith what materials he needed to make his gym class better and talked with the violin teacher about securing a permanent classroom for his lessons.
"I've promised nothing so far," Gum said. "I've just asked 'What do you need?'"
He poked his head into classrooms and interrupted lessons to introduce himself.
"My name is Mr. Gum, G-U-M, just like chewing gum, and I'm going to be your principal for the rest of the year," he announced to one class amid cheers and applause...
...Gum said he felt like a student on the first day of school.
"This is a traumatic time for this school and this community," Gum said. "My job is to get everybody sitting on the same side of the fence. It'll take a while."...