Gronkiewicz succeeds Wentworth as principal Strong leader, thorough, good listener, colleagues say of new North Co. head

June 30, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Eight years ago, Patricia Gronkiewicz forsook her first love, teaching, for administration to make a more profound difference in the lives of students.

As new principal of North County High School, she will get her chance this fall when 1,790 students -- 125 more than her predecessor had -- return in the fall.

Gronkiewicz, 47, succeeds William P. Wentworth Jr., who retired this month after six years as principal. Wentworth, a forceful personality, was credited with building the Ferndale high school out of two old rivals: Brooklyn Park Junior-Senior High and Andover High.

Former colleagues of Gronkiewicz said she is a power in her own right and a great catch for the school.

"She will make her own path. She will make her own mark, and I think it will be positive for her and the community. She will give 110 percent," said Mary Ellen Mulliken, assistant principal at Glen Burnie High School. Mulliken has been friends with Gronkiewicz since the mid-1970s, when they taught together at Arundel High School.

Friday found Gronkiewicz, a relaxed and self-assured woman, settling into the first week of her new job.

She said Wentworth left behind a well-run school and great staff. Her biggest job will be handling the extra students, encouraging more students to take college-level courses and preparing them for the transition from teen-ager to adult.

"We're just a stepping stone to the real world. We only have them for four years," said Gronkiewicz.

The oldest of three sisters, Gronkiewicz began her teaching career in 1971 at what is now known as Marley Middle School in Glen Burnie. After 12 years as a teacher, she began training to become an assistant principal from 1983 to 1991 while practicing as a teacher specialist.

She was an assistant principal from 1991 to the present, the last two years at Old Mill High School in Millersville.

At Old Mill, Gronkiewicz made calls to parents on weekends and brought work home to complete at night so her time at school could be spent with students, colleagues said.

Stephen Banian, assistant principal at Meade High School, worked with Gronkiewicz for two years when she was assistant principal there from 1992 to 1994. They have been friends for six years.

Banian said she is a strong leader, an excellent organizer and thorough.

All of her colleagues said she is also a great listener.

Gronkiewicz's father was an Army man, so the family lived in such places as Germany and Japan. She said she learned to become a good listener to appreciate others'cultures. She also found it made good sense as a teacher and administrator.

"You are able to listen to other people's viewpoints. You are able to recognize their expertise and try to incorporate the variety and best suggestions you get," she said.

Gronkiewicz lives in Millersville with her husband Earl, 48, and daughters, Julia, 18, and Mary, 10.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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