Crash course for a rookie principal Hill assesses challenges at Glen Burnie High

July 03, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

It must be something like asking a rookie to guard Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan. In his first job as a principal, David Hill takes over Glen Burnie High School, the second largest in the county.

"I have a nervousness, but it's a good nervousness," said Hill, 46, who is in his first week in charge at the six-building campus on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. "I think if I was comfortable coming in here and my hands weren't shaking a little bit, I wouldn't be human."

When school resumes this fall, Hill will be responsible for 2,000 students -- 500 more than he had as assistant principal at Annapolis High, his last post.

Joyce Smith, the principal at Annapolis, said she has faith that Hill's experience will guide him.

"He's one of the very best assistants I've worked with and there's nothing to be done in management that he can't handle. We were sorry to lose him," said Smith.

Hill succeeds Oliver Wittig, the man who trained him at Severna Park High School from 1986 to 1988.

"I consider it an honor to take Ollie's place," said Hill. "He was open and always made you feel comfortable enough that you could talk to him. I think that was a very valuable lesson to learn."

Wittig, who was principal at Glen Burnie for two years, retired last week and couldn't be reached for comment.

Hill, a tall, lithe man, said he became a teacher because he never wanted to leave school.

Being around young people "keeps you young," he said.

"I think young people have an honesty that helps you keep yourself in perspective. They don't let you get too full of yourself," he said. "I think they have a passion and you can feed off of their passion and enthusiasm for things."

Hill spent the first four years of his career teaching emotionally-disturbed children at the Winterode School on the grounds of Crownsville Hospital Center.

The experience "made me grow up in a hurry in the classroom and it made me a better teacher out of the gate. It forced you to be creative," he said.

When the Winterode School closed in 1975, he landed a job as a special-education teacher at Magothy River Middle School, where he taught for 11 years before training to become an administrator.

After he completed his training at Severna Park High, he spent seven years as an assistant principal: five at Southern High School and two at Annapolis.

One of his first challenges at Glen Burnie will be the same one that confronted his predecessors: How do you keep teen-agers out of the fast-food joints and shops on nearby Ritchie Highway and in the classroom?

Hill, the father of two teen-agers, doesn't claim to have a solution. But he hopes reason and conversations with students on the importance of education will make an impact.

"You have to sell it to them. Kids basically want structure and they will pretty much go along with things if you explain them to them," said Hill.

Among his goals at Glen Burnie is to recruit business leaders to serve as mentors to students and to foster a sense of community by giving students a say in decisions.

"The more involved kids are in how things go in this building, the better off we are," he said. "We could have 50 million rules, but unless the kids buy into it, it's not going to work."

Pub Date: 7/03/96

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