I can still vividly remember the interview for the Castle View High School principal’s job. Over five hours of intense questioning, role plays, and performance tasks were all part of an experience unlike anything I had ever done. The whole process gave me a premonition of the type of transformational learning environment established by the founding principal, Dr. Lisle Gates, and the core team of teachers.
On the way home from the interview, I had an overwhelming feeling that I had to be selected for this job. My instincts kept telling me that this was a school not just talking about improving student learning, but one that was doing something to create better learning environments. Six years later, my hopes and prayers were answered and I can proudly say that Castle View High School continues to be a school leading the state in implementation of transformative and innovative educational practices.
Thinking back on my six years as the principal at CVHS, I am honored to have worked with staff, students, and the community as we have researched, implemented, taken risks, debated, and, frankly, been criticized for the hard work of adequately preparing students for an ever changing and complex world. The staff recognized the need to create ways to help students develop deeper and more meaningful ways to understand and apply what they learned. Parents jumped on board to support the transformative strategies used to help students learn. Our focus on preparing students for the future meant our school would look different than the school parents attended a generation ago. It is a bit strange to write about the schools accomplishments while I was the principal on the eve of the first day of school for students. Normally, this would be a night filled with tossing and turning for me. I would worry about oversleeping and missing the Senior Sunrise celebration. My sleep would be interrupted with dreams about the bleachers getting stuck so students don’t have a place to sit for the opening assembly or a nightmare about the fire alarm being pulled. I worried about the internet going on the blink and that we may not get schedules to students. In essence, I dreamed about all the things that could go wrong that never did. Tonight I will lose sleep for a different reason, I will miss greeting 2100 students as they begin the 2016-2017 school year.
I am certainly excited and happy for the staff and students as they transition to new leadership. Rex Corr, the new principal, is a passionate and loyal educator who has been at CVHS for his ninth year. He understands the climate and culture of the school and community. He will lead a great group of teachers and support staff that all work with a great sense of urgency on the challenges facing public education today. This school’s mission, to transform education, is at the very heart of the traditions that have been established over the last 10 years. I am so thrilled and proud I have been a part of helping make Castle View High School a very special place.
Dr. James M. Calhoun Jr.