Eric Minus has been hired to replace Bill Gregory, who is retiring after an 18 year-long career in MCPS that includes the last 12 years as principal at Sherwood. Minus will inherit a school that has its strengths and its areas where improvement is needed.
Students generally like, or at least tolerate, attending Sherwood. The qualities of the school include some strong teachers, particularly in large numbers in the English and Social Studies departments, according to many students. Most teachers also facilitate good relationships with their students, and relations among students are thought to be positive overall, as well. Sherwood also offers a host of classes available for students, from sciences to arts. The athletics also tend to be strong, although complaints about an excessive emphasis (and funding) on sports are not uncommon. The prevalent belief is that the administrators are friendly, but that encounters with them are rare because they are not regularly visible in the building. The administration is also perceived as avoiding “tough topics” such as suicide intolerance or sexual assault. As for the student body itself, the hallway environment could be better, as pathways are often crowded and/or loud. Also, the commonly held opinion among students is that school-wide policies related to behavior and attendance are not evenly enforced (or followed at all).
To gauge the desires of the community going forward, MCPS created a survey for students, staff, and parents that allowed participants to select four (out of 11 total) categories describing leadership skills that the newly selected principal should have that will allow him or her to most effectively lead Sherwood. Some of the categories were concepts like “commitment to professional growth of school personnel,” “community engagement,” “effective management and operations,” and “equity and excellence.” After a tally of student responses, the most popular areas of focus for the new principal are “accessible leadership,” “culture and climate,” and “equity and excellence.”
Accessible Leadership was one of the most popular categories. This means that the new principal should, ideally, demonstrate “an approachable personality and promotes positive interpersonal skills with students, staff, parents/ guardians, and community members.” Many students emphasized the importance of the new principal being more of a public figure that is approachable in the eyes of the community.
Culture and Climate was also an extremely popular category. This is described as the new principal being able to “create a community-centered environment of caring adults committed to creating and maintaining a friendly, positive, and safe school climate in order to meet the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of students.” One student explained the view of many by saying, “Sherwood is very diverse and we need a principal who can effectively adjust and be able to work with all of our students.”
A third objective for the new principal to pursue is Equity and Excellence, which would “maintain high expectations among staff, students, and parents/guardians so that all students will be successful in school” as well as “create rigorous educational opportunities and culturally responsive practices to ensure the success and well-being of culturally diverse students.” This is especially important because the incoming principal should have a passion for the school and its students to be successful, and want to create opportunities to make this goal feasible. Without this, no student can fully reach their potential.
The Warrior hopes that Minus will have concrete goals that will be noticed almost immediately by the average student. The most important is arguably visibility – as a new member of administration it is important that the new principal forge positive relationships with the Sherwood community. In addition, it is hoped Minus should display high expectations for the students and staff. All this together creates the formula of success for a school leader. If you can prove you care about the students and staff, they will more likely give more of an effort to be at their best.