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May 1, 2007

Gainous announces likely resignation

by Merlyn Deng, Online Editor-in-Chief and Hareesh Ganesan, Print Editor-in-Chief
Principal Phillip Gainous announced yesterday that this may be his last year at Blair, pending a final decision by the Board of Education. He told the staff at a closed meeting Monday after school that he is being considered for the newly created position of Liaison for Leadership Development in the county.
Pending a May 8 decision, Principal Phillip Gainous may end his 23-year stay/tenure at Blair.  Here, Gainous is interviewed during the ID controversy on October 18, 2006. Jeff Lautenberger
Pending a May 8 decision, Principal Phillip Gainous may end his 23-year stay/tenure at Blair. Here, Gainous is interviewed during the ID controversy on October 18, 2006.
In an interview with Silver Chips, Gainous expressed ambivalence about the new position. "I never ever thought I would leave Blair, except when I retire," he said.



Gainous said that he sent in a letter of interest several weeks ago, and that an interview panel on the Executive Board of the Montgomery County Association of Administrative and Supervision Personnel (MCAASP) recommended him to school administrators and principals in the county. Gainous now awaits their approval. Principals and school administrators will be notified across the county of his pending position today. The school board will issue its final decision May 8.



While the responsibilities of the job have not been defined, Gainous would work with the representatives of the MCAASP, the Montgomery County Association of Administrative and Supervision Personnel and the Service Employees International Union. "It would involve teaching administrators what the programs are about, and how to implement them," he said.



His possible departure would mark the end of his 23-year tenure as Blair's principal. According to English Paraeducator Janice Taylor, who was on the original selection committee that chose Gainous over 20 years ago, Gainous came in at a crucial stage for Blair. "At that time, it was just critical to get someone that would understand [all of] the Blair community...he came across that way for all of the programs," Taylor said. Gainous, who had served as principal of Prince William County's Gar-Field High School, was selected for his experience with large schools, "a lot of principles" and what Taylor described as a commitment to remain at Blair for an extended period of time.



Gainous said that after accepting the position, he began his work as Blair's principal with the intention of reforming Blair's image. He said that the school was viewed throughout the county as a "downtrodden hellhole that needed to be cleaned up." Gainous said that, instead, he found that the only crucial step was to find teachers who would interact with the students. "People were afraid to come here because of [Blair's] reputation...It was like going to war," he said.



Gainous also served as principal in the 1990s when both the school and the community became very involved in the effort to relocate Blair from what is now Silver Spring International Middle School to its current location on University Boulevard.



Gainous also took a serious interest in the development of ESOL programs and, more recently, the institution of academies. Gainous said that the next step for the administration will be to continue promoting academies throughout Blair so that students are better prepared for life after high school.





The prospect of concluding his Blair tenure has weighed heavily on him, Gainous said. "Ever since I sent in the letter of interest, I haven't slept well," he said. "I have been trying to get my mind wrapped around not being here."



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  • Eli Barnett on May 1, 2007 at 9:30 PM
    I hope the person who replaces him makes better policies.
  • Andrew Tourtellot '04 on May 2, 2007 at 2:27 AM
    Just reading this makes me tear up. Even those of us who didn't interact with him much directly were aware of what a great guy he is. I remember the incident with Weast mentioned in the Washington Post article on his possible resignation, we were so proud he was our principle... I also remember on 9/11 he allowed classes to keep up with the news reports, and there was an announcement about what had happened. I didn't even realize what a rare display of respect for the students that was until I talked to friends in college, whose schools had been in view of the smoke from the towers but had no idea what was going on because their principal was cutting off all the information for the sake of a normal day of school. Anyway...tons of respect for you Mr. Gainous, and we're sorry to see you go!
  • Cathy Johnson (View Email) on May 2, 2007 at 9:18 AM
    The whole community owes a lot to Mr. Gainous for leading Blair to be the pride rather than the shame of our area. He will be a really tough act to follow, and deserves the thanks of all of us who live here, whether we have students at the school or not.
  • Varun on May 2, 2007 at 10:52 AM
    noooo...why, gainous, why?!?
  • So sad! on May 2, 2007 at 12:20 PM
    This is so sad! I will definitely miss Phil!
  • blazr on May 2, 2007 at 12:25 PM
    I am sad that Gainos is leaving. He was a good principle and a dear friend to me and many other student too I believe.
  • gg on May 2, 2007 at 2:17 PM
    gg son gg
  • nonyabiz on May 2, 2007 at 3:00 PM
    yea. like he did anything to help blair and if he did then y did't we hear about it. i see him in the hall way at lwast once a month, we need a person who can respect us as students, and not apply stupid policies such as detention, pointless waste of trees, time and education. Point is, it is time for change. not to be mean.
  • Concerned (View Email) on May 2, 2007 at 3:51 PM
    oh god please don't leave, we need you so much -- weast will appoint someone who is a total lapdog and the school will suffer
  • yo on May 2, 2007 at 4:16 PM
    Gainous has been a great principal. If you read this, just know that we thank you for making Blair better (honestly).
  • confused on May 2, 2007 at 7:47 PM
    uh to "nonyabiz" what exactly do you mean by gainous' stupid policy of "pointless waste of trees?"
  • g on May 2, 2007 at 8:55 PM
    NO! Gainous was the only one who stood up for Blair! He did so much for the school-- he can't leave!
  • Izaak Orlansky '04 (View Email) on May 3, 2007 at 12:36 AM
    Great coverage, Silver Chips.

    I first have to throw in my thanks as well to Principal Gainous. He has been fighting tooth-and-nail for Blair ever since he got here. He has shown a fierce independence from Central Office, unwilling to conform to standards that he believed hurt Blazers - exacty as a principal should do.

    On a personal note, I have an enormous appreciation for all the work Gainous has done for freedom of speech and student journalism. From Shades of Gray to the SAT controversy, he sided time and time again with us, the student journalists, and our right to express ourselves. It taught us all a lot about courage and standing up for what you believe; his work on our behalf will be sorely missed.

    Finally, I am left with some questions that I hope Silver Chips can get to the bottom of...Most importantly, exactly why is Gainous leaving? Is this a final way of giving back? Or, and this is my worry, is there some sense that his time is up? There is a reluctance in his quotes, an 'ambivalence,' that makes me, quite frankly, a bit sad.

    Gainous is Blair...and it's hard for me to imagine anyone else at the helm, or him anywhere else. Thanks for all you've done, Principal Gainous.
  • Sam on May 3, 2007 at 1:38 PM
    Oh, so this is what you were working on... nice article. Mr Gainous is awesome.
  • '07 senior on May 3, 2007 at 7:26 PM
    This is so sad! Although I wish Mr. Gainous the best, I hope he doesn't go. While many students don't believe that he has done anything, that's only because they haven't experienced other high schools, where principals are definitely not as supportive of their students. Mr. Gainous has done an amazing job, and Blair would not be the same without him. I am not the first in my family to graduate from Blair, but have much older relatives who did as well, and even they cannot imagine a Blair without Mr. Gainous. He's definitely a hard act to follow.

    And to anyone who doubts the work Mr. Gainous has done, just think about this:
    who is the person who has created this magnificent and competitive school that is known at virtually every college in the nation just by name? There aren't many high schools that can say the same.

    Thank you for everything that you have done for Blair, Mr. Gainous.
  • 07 on May 3, 2007 at 8:19 PM
    eh, not shedding any tears over this one, personally. every stand he made for blair in rockville he would then give the students hell for no reason. IDs, detentions, there was basically at least one battle every year. good riddance.
  • re: '07 senior on May 3, 2007 at 9:43 PM
    "who is the person who has created this magnificent and competitive school that is known at virtually every college in the nation just by name?"

    Obviously the brilliant Magnets in our school who win national and international awards, and not Mr. Gainous by any stretch. As long as Blair maintains a competitive Magnet program, no matter the principle, Blair will be well known by colleges.
  • Euclid on May 4, 2007 at 4:01 PM
    @re: '07 senior
    And who do you think brought the magnet program here?
    It was Gainous
  • Someone you may know on May 4, 2007 at 7:34 PM
    To re: '07 senior:
    Stop being such an elitist. Comments like yours make everyone view Magnets as elitist, egotistical, arrogant academic snobs. But I agree that it was not just Principal Gainous that made Blair known. Gainous may have made Blair less of a "downtrodden hellhole", but it is the students [not just the Magnets] that truly make Blair competitive and well known.
  • uh...duh on May 5, 2007 at 4:55 AM
    Except for some CAPpies, the Magnet is the only competitive branch of Blair and you know it too. Do any colleges care about the Human Services academy in our school?? I admit that Gainous brought the Magnet in, though, so he does deserve some of the kudos.
  • Euclid on May 5, 2007 at 3:33 PM
    "the Magnet is the only competitive branch of Blair "
    Although it is the most competative, I know many nonmagnets who are going to some fairly prestigious colleges. Seriously, the main student body does have some degree of competativeness. And when deciding between Blair and Whitman for high school, I factored in more than just the magnet classes. Blair has a pretty good social studies department, for example.
  • THe king!! on May 7, 2007 at 5:13 PM
    MR gainous the the bomb!!
    I totally dont want him to leave!!
  • anyway on May 7, 2007 at 6:14 PM
    "Although it is the most competative, I know many nonmagnets who are going to some fairly prestigious colleges. Seriously, the main student body does have some degree of competativeness"

    Every school has a few students that get into somewhat prestigious universities and one or two that get into the ivies, so by that reasoning every school is competitive? No, only the schools where a significantly high number of kids matriculate to the hard to get into colleges are really considered competitive, and those students come primarily from the special programs at Blair.

    "And when deciding between Blair and Whitman for high school, I factored in more than just the magnet classes. Blair has a pretty good social studies department, for example. "

    Better than Whitman, huh? Who knew!
  • uhh on May 8, 2007 at 10:14 AM
    mr gainous is balling
    weast is just falling
  • The Pooka on May 8, 2007 at 7:10 PM
    Gainous DEFINITELY improved the school (even though he did add a tad too much beaurocratic nonsense). Personally, I'm more worried about who we'll have next. Let's hope Weast picks competent.
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