Earlier this week, when the Montgomery County Board of Education announced the appointment of Christopher Wynne as the new principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown many of the students at the middle school were happy because the new principal would be a familiar face – their old elementary school principal.
Wynne has served as Principal at Sally Ride Elementary School in Germantown, a feeder school for MLK Middle School. Wynne was essentially being promoted to middle school with this year’s rising sixth graders.
“One of the good things about moving to Martin Luther King Middle School is that 30 percent of the kids came from Sally Ride. They know me. I have established relationships with much of the community,” said Wynne. “It will be a nice transition because a lot of the kids that I know already attend MLK and I know much of the community.”
Wynne, who will officially take over at MLK on July 1, said his job for eight years at Sally Ride ES was making sure that when students left elementary school they were prepared for middle school. Now, it will be making sure that middle schoolers are prepared for high school.
“I look forward to really helping kids through the adolescent years to instill the importance of school and the importance of education. So that they can go ahead and get those prerequisite skills and be ready for high school and make sure they will can have the opportunity to go to college,” said Wynne.
He said that one of his challenges will be building relationships with families and parents from Waters Landing and Lake Seneca elementary schools. “When you look at parent involvement. Parents come out when you showcase kids’ talent. So, I look at how are we celebrating kids’ success and how are we inviting parents so that they want to come into the school.”
Wynne will take over a school that is currently the smallest serving the Germantown area. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School has an enrollment projection of 639 students for the 2015-2016 school year, according to MCPS. The school district projects that the student population at MLK MS could increase to 753 by 2019-2020, but it will still be well below its listed capacity of 905 students.
Ed Vegizzi, who is the president of the MLKMS Parent Teacher Student Association, said he was very happy when he heard the news that Wynne would be moving up to middle school. “It was good news to me, Mr. Wynne was my principal when I was president of the PTA at Ride ES. He was very responsive and great to work with.” said Vegizzi, who said he has two more years with a student at MLK.
“One of the things that I pride myself on is being a visible, responsible and accessible principal,” said Wynne. “Once you set up that environment it assists with getting parents involved. Sometimes you have to do some outreach, depending on what the community needs, and I will figure that out once I get there and do a needs assessment. If parents are not being involved, we will look at the needs and reasons, and go ahead and address them.”
Wynne will take over for outgoing Principal Dana Davison, who spent five years at MLK taking over when Marc Cohen left to become principal at Seneca Valley High School in 2010. Davison will be moving on within MCPS taking a posting as executive director of the Office of the Chief Operating Officer. “Dana Davison has been an excellent principal and was promoted within MCPS,” said MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig.
The MLK PTSA president also had high praise for Davison. “She is well liked and respected,” said Vegizzi, especially with the way she handled the tragic loss of William McQuain.”
William McQuain was a sixth grader at MLK MS when he and his mother Jane McQuain were murdered by Curtis Lopez in September of 2011.
“Ms. Davison was only at the school a short time when that tragedy struck and she did a very commendable job in an impossible situation to help students and families deal with that tragedy,” said Vegizzi. “She will be missed.”
MCPS has not yet named Wynne’s replacement at Sally Ride ES. “The Office of School Support and Improvement will immediately begin the search for a new principal at Sally Ride Elementary School and will be working with parents on this. We hope the process will go quickly, but we will take the time to get the right leader for that school community.” Said Tofig.
Wynne offered some advice to whoever ends taking over at Sally Ride ES. “My advice would be to listen,” said Wynne. “Which is something that I always tried to do when I first came into the school. Listen to the parents, listen to the kids, and listen to the staff to get a flavor of the community. Sally Ride has a very diverse community with different needs, but we have a very willing school community and staff that will continue the progress that we’ve made as a school.”
“It is tough leaving Sally Ride,” said Wynne. “I have been there for eight years and I have strong ties to the community, the parents and the kids. I have had brothers and sisters come through over the years. I am certainly going to miss my staff, but one thing that I always ask my staff to do is challenge themselves professionally. One of the reasons I was looking at moving to middle school was to engage in a talent that will help me grow professionally. It is tough leaving but it is right. While I will miss Sally Ride it is a new chapter, which is a good thing.”
Caption: Earlier this week, the Board of Education appointed Christopher Wynne the new Principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown.
Photo by Germantown Pulse.