Severna Park's new principal has high expectations for teens


September 06, 2001|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEVERNA PARK HIGH School has had only six principals since it opened more than four decades ago. But the new school year brought a new principal, and he wasted no time in reminding the youngest students there that they have the chance to fulfill their dreams if they're willing to work.

"It requires a consistent effort to live that dream," Principal Will Myers said, addressing the 448 students in the freshman class on the first day of school.

The 52-year-old principal appreciates his role in that effort.

"My job is to provide the support to accomplish that goal, to see that it's able to be done," he said in an interview. "This is a marvelous school and community. I'm highly impressed with the staff and kids."

He added that "it will take a while to really learn about the school, what makes Severna Park unique."

Myers follows in the footsteps of some administrative legends at Severna Park High, which opened in 1959.

There was mild-mannered Ray Ueberoth, principal from the late 1960s to mid-1970s, who relieved the stress of his job by traipsing around the country riding every roller coaster he could find.

Oliver Wittig followed Ueberoth and was principal for 11 years. Myers' immediate predecessor, Mary Gable, became principal in 1994.

This summer, Gable became an administrator on the county level. She is instructional director for the region that includes Severna Park and Meade high schools. She works with principals at elementary and middle schools that feed the two high schools and with principals at the high schools to develop educational goals suited to each school.

"It's very exciting in that I do get to work with all schools on a K-to-12 basis," Gable said. Last week she visited every school under her direction.

Myers, too, is no stranger to Severna Park High, having grown up in neighboring Pasadena and attended Lakeshore Elementary, George Fox Junior High and Northeast High schools.

Getting to know what makes a school tick is by now old hat to Myers.

Thirty years ago, he began his career in education as a student teacher at Severna Park Junior High. His first job was teaching social studies at McArthur Middle School at Fort Meade. He moved into administration in 1979 as an assistant principal at Annapolis, Old Mill, Northeast and Meade high schools, and assumed his first principal's position at Arundel High School.

Myers says his first mission at Severna Park is to gather information from the community, the students and the staff to help explain his vision for the school. Sixteen teachers have been added this year, bringing the school's teaching staff to about 80. Myers will share with the teachers his goal for a "safe, secure school environment where students have a personalized program that prepares them for the future."

On Aug. 28, the first full day of school for all four grades, Severna Park High recorded an enrollment of 1,700, said guidance counselor Sam Scalzi.

"Things look good this year," he said, and he should know. He has been at the school 24 years, but his attitude is as fresh as it was when he began. Students are assigned to counselors alphabetically, he explained, so over the years he has guided many sets of brothers and sisters. Now he finds himself advising a new generation, the children of his former students.

The first week that the students are back in school is a period Myers describes as "relative calm." After that, he "shifts gears" to begin one of a principal's primary duties, observing teachers in their classrooms.

He likes what he has seen.

"The teachers are so good," he says. "Ninety-nine percent of them are here because they want to be, because they want to touch the future. My job is to assist them."

With 85 percent of its graduates going on to college, Severna Park has one of the higher college attendance rates in the county. Myers hopes to work with Gable to find ways to make it possible for even more to go to college.

In the meantime, he tells his students, "Remember to aim for the moon, because if you miss, you'll still land among the stars."

Computer class at library

For those of us who can't tell a "mouse" from a gerbil, the county library system is offering an introduction to the computer and the Internet called "Click Here." By becoming familiar with the library's Web sites on the Internet, individuals can use that information to access the same resources at home.

Classes for those with little or no experience with computers teach participants how to use a computer mouse to find a book or magazine article, place a request or find Web sites on the Internet.

The intermediate class covers the electronic databases to which the library subscribes, such as the health reference center, the general reference center and area newspaper archives. It also covers recommended Web sites for movies, government and travel.

Registration is free, but required, and can be completed either by phone or in person at the branch where the class will be held. For information about classes at other branches, call 410-222-7371.

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