Principal hopes to breathe new life into scandal-ridden school

August 26, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Roy Skiles said he never spent a day in the principal's office when he was a student at Northeast High School 26 years ago.

But since July he has spent every day there, sitting behind the principal's desk, helping to breathe new life into the Pasadena school that has been the subject of negative media attention and internal division.

He said he's excited because the school has a strong faculty.

"I feel like I sort of hit the lottery. I'm where I want to be and doing what I want to do," Mr. Skiles said. "The idea of coming back to Northeast, that's sort of a fairy tale type of thing."

Mr. Skiles graduated in 1968 with no intention of becoming an educator. He wanted to "go to college and play football," he said.

But he got hooked after spending one day as a student teacher while a junior at Western Maryland College in Westminster. He has been in education ever since.

The Pasadena resident came to Northeast after six years as an assistant principal at Chesapeake High School, Northeast's rival.

One of his main tasks will be to lead the school beyond the negative news coverage it received last school year because of a teacher-student sex scandal.

"It's time for Northeast to get its name back, and we're going to work real hard to make sure that happens," Mr. Skiles said.

Ron Price, a former Northeast teacher, was convicted of child sex abuse for having sex with a student. He is serving a 21-year sentence. After his conviction, three other county teachers were indicted for sexual abuse. All were acquitted.

"When I went to Northeast, I would tell you that it was the best high school on the face of the earth," Mr. Skiles said. "When I wore a jacket or a T-shirt with Northeast on it, I would do that with a lot of pride. I would hope that the students today feel that."

Recently, he told his faculty some of the ideas he hopes will improve life at Northeast. They include:

* All children have value. Teachers must find the value and separate children from their behavior.

* Education is a business, a service industry.

* The staff must work together.

Dorothy Schleupner, a math teacher who has been at Northeast for 25 years, said the work climate at the school has already changed.

"We all have a new attitude because we've been excited by somebody. It's creating a fresh start for all of us," she said. "I'm excited about coming back to school."

Mr. Skiles, too, is looking forward to starting the year with a clean slate.

"It's a new year, a new day with new possibilities," he said. "Who's to say that this year coming up won't be the best of all our lives?"

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