Woodbridge School District announces new principals

By Scott Bleile

Two of the four schools in the Woodbridge School District will be starting the 2016-2017 school year with new principals at the helm. Woodbridge High School and Woodbridge Early Childhood Education Center (WECEC) will have familiar faces taking over as principal. Kent Chase, will be taking over at the high school, while Kim Mitchell will head up WECEC. Both Chase and Mitchell were previously assistant principals. The new assistant principals are Kelley Thompson at the high school and Dane Sears at WECEC.

Chase will be taking over for Robert Adams, who retired at the end of the last school year. Chase has been the assistant principal for eight years and has worked for Woodbridge for 14 years.

"It is exciting to be taking over as principal," stated Chase. "I had a good mentor in Mr. Adams and I feel I am very ready to step into his shoes and take the high school forward into the new school year. I thought I would be more anxious, but I am very familiar with the staff and we have great people here, so it has made the transition very easy."

"We have a responsibility to our students to get them as ready as we can for the outside world. Students may not all go to college, it could be the working world or the military and they have to be ready for that challenge," Chase said. "Together this year, Kelley and I have laid out three goals we would like to achieve this year. The first is getting better with our differentiation instruction. All kids do not learn the same and changing the way we instruct them will help them learn better. The second is changing our Positive Behavior Support piece. I feel that this is important for our students to learn to interact with each other and the third goal will be standards based grading. What this means is looking at giving grades more subjectively. What are the competencies that students need to have to master a standard? To get what they need for the future? We want to make sure the students have the opportunity and the tools necessary to reach their goals."

Thompson started teaching in the Christina School District and then moved to Maryland to teach. She comes to Woodbridge from Calvert County High School where she served as a social studies teacher for four years and an assistant principal and teacher for the last two years. "Coming from being a teacher and an administrator I have found that I can relate to the staff very well," Thompson said. "I was able to gain valuable experience from doing both jobs. It gave me an interesting perspective because I could look at problems from both sides, not only from an administrator's point of view, but also a teacher's view. I am ready for the challenge of being the assistant principal here at Woodbridge. I am excited to return to Delaware. I grew up in Northern Delaware and spent a lot of time at the beach. This will be an exciting year, we are both new administrators and starting on this journey together. It will be fun."

Mitchell and Sears are familiar faces to the staff at WECE. Mitchell moves up from the assistant principal position to principal and Sears joins the staff as the assistant principal from teaching science at Woodbridge Middle School. Sears's wife Katie is a guidance counselor at WECEC. "I am really excited to move up to be principal," Mitchell stated. "I know so many of the families and students. I either taught them or had the parents at the middle school. I have a great relationship with the community. It makes it very easy for the parents who have a question or concern; it makes it easy for them to contact me to get the problem resolved."

Mitchell has been with the Woodbridge School District for 24 years, serving as a teacher, science specialist, and assistant principal at the middle school and WECEC. "Our district has a good foundation for the school to move forward. Since we are now kindergarten to second grade we want to work on getting our teachers training to help with early childhood development, brain development and how crucial it is for that understanding and to make the experience of learning positive for students and parents. Our school is a family, not only just the staff, but the parents and students also."

Sears has moved from teaching middle school age students to an elementary school assistant principal. "It will be a big change, but I am excited to take on a new step as assistant," Sears said. "This is my ninth year with Woodbridge. Mrs. Mitchell and Ms. Tunstall hired me as the science teacher at the middle school and Mrs. Mitchell and I have worked very well together, so becoming the assistant with her will be a good experience. I came into education looking to teach at the elementary school level, but started at the middle school level. With having three small children at home, it sparked my interest in early childhood and when this position became available I followed my dream."

"We have may fun activities planned for the coming year. Raiderpalooza reading goal will continue and we will be a part of the 'We R Woodbridge' celebration on September 17th. We will also have a day where we have the parents ride the bus to school with their child to get the whole experience and we take them home. It gives the parents a chance to see what their child goes through each day and hopefully gives them a good feeling as to how well their child is treated and to show how we keep their child safe," stated Sears.

"We are the first experience a parent has with their student with education and we are the first experience a student has with education. We are determined to create an environment that is positive and will set the tone for the rest of their time in the Woodbridge School District and we will be setting the tone for how the child views their education. We want them to do the best they can do each day while they are here," said Sears. "We want them to be successful in our building for all the years they are here," added Mitchell.

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