Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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July 25, 2009

Magnet coordinator resigns unexpectedly

by Masha Lafen, Online Sports and Entertainment Editor
On Monday, Magnet Coordinator Dennis Heidler announced his resignation in order to take the position of assistant principal at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville. In a letter that surprised students, parents and teachers of the Math, Science and Computer Science Magnet Program, Heidler explained that he wanted to return to elementary school, where his teaching career began. "I am very excited about the prospect of returning to elementary but it is not without hesitation with respect to the wonderful experience I have had at Blair and in the Magnet program," he said in the letter.

Math and Science Magnet Coordinator Dennis Heidler will become Assistant Principal at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville. <i>Picture courtesy of Silverlogue.</i>
Math and Science Magnet Coordinator Dennis Heidler will become Assistant Principal at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Rockville. Picture courtesy of Silverlogue.
Heidler insists that the cuts to the Magnet budget in the past year are not the reason for his departure. "Budget impacts were one of the reasons I stayed," he said, "because I wanted to be with the program while it changed. I didn't want to hand that over to somebody who had never been with the program."

The sudden resignation shocked teachers as well as parents and students. Magnet teacher Lola Piper said that she had no prior inclination that Heidler would resign. "I was shocked by how fast it happened," she said. Magnet parent Beth Kaufman was equally saddened. "Mr. Heidler's departure is a loss to the Magnet and a loss to the Blair community."

The timing of Heidler's resignation has left Principal Darryl Williams little time to find a permanent replacement coordinator before the start of school. Williams learned of Heidler's departure on July 17, and the Blair Magnet coordinator vacancy was announced yesterday. Applications will be accepted until July 31. From there, Williams will review candidates with a panel of parents, teachers, students and administrators.

The new Magnet coordinator must be confirmed by the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE). While he hopes to find a replacement by the next BOE meeting on Aug. 27, Williams said that he has requested approval to appoint an acting Magnet coordinator to serve until a final decision is made. According to Director of School Performance Bronda Mills, the acting Magnet coordinator will most likely be a retired MCPS principal.

Williams met with a group of Magnet parents and staff on Tuesday to determine the desired characteristics of the replacement coordinator. Kaufman, who attended the meeting, hopes that the new coordinator will be an innovator and a good communicator, with knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math. Williams said that he is looking for "someone to maintain the rigorous program and support the accomplishments of students and staff."

As Director of School Performance, Mills will have a say in deciding who will become the next Magnet coordinator. She says that the board will look for "someone who has a belief in high expectations for student learning and can work collaboratively with a number of individuals to ensure the program is high quality, is very engaging and able to help our students reach their full potential. I'm expecting that we will indeed have an outstanding candidate to recommend to be the next Magnet coordinator for Blair."

Heidler appreciates the time he spent at Blair. "Blair has been a wonderful place to be. I'm going to miss being here," he said. "My hope for the future of the Magnet program is their continued success as the students achieve really amazing things in their research and their work."

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  • Magnet sophomore on July 26, 2009 at 2:14 PM
    We all knew that this would happen. The man is a careerist.
  • BlairAlumni on July 26, 2009 at 7:11 PM
    Mr. Heidler will be missed! He was an important part of the Magnet. I hope they find a good replacement. Best of luck at Barnsley!
  • Magnet Senior on July 27, 2009 at 11:10 PM
    "We all knew that this would happen. The man is a careerist."

    Agreed. Anyone who truly cared about the magnet would have taken the responsibility to leave a more reasonable amount of time to find a replacement. Simple as that.
  • you'll be missed! on July 28, 2009 at 4:07 PM
    best of luck at barnsley! this was a total shock though
  • senior on July 29, 2009 at 1:35 PM
    he was annoying and treated non magnets unfairly.
    but good luck to him.
  • Senior #2 on July 29, 2009 at 4:20 PM
    "Mr. Heidler will be missed!" Who will? Mr. Heidler has destroyed the program. He gave up and reduced to quality of this program to the level of an academy. The Magnet is not the Magnet anymore. Would this program last for another three years? Maybe, it will not. There were 18 magnet teachers; now, there are 11.5 magnet teahers. It's time for Mr. Heidler to run. He does not want to be the last magnet coordinator.
    • ugh on July 30, 2009 at 10:50 PM
      heidler did it because no one else wanted to do it. pham, stein, curran, donaldson, dvorsky, etc NO ONE wanted to be coordinator when steinkraus left.

      the magnet's death was just...postponed for a few years, is all.
      • no on August 24, 2009 at 11:20 PM
        heidler was meant to succeed steinkraus, but taught in the years preceding his appointment.
  • asd on July 29, 2009 at 4:36 PM
  • anti-magnet (View Email) on August 3, 2009 at 11:28 AM
    good riddance
  • student on August 7, 2009 at 4:28 PM
    The pessimism is a little too much.

    Work hard on those SRPs, everyone. =P
  • Magnet sophomore on August 8, 2009 at 3:34 PM
    Hey! I'm not a pessimist, I'm a cynic.

  • RRR on August 10, 2009 at 11:00 AM
    This is such a shock and Mr.Heidler will be missed. This is such a tough job for any taker. I hope someone who can influence to save this program will take over.
  • hyder (View Email) on August 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM
    Mr. Heidler was a fine teacher. I still haven't forgotten a thing I learned in his class, and, as a teacher at least, he proved more than competent. The program's rough spots have certainly not been his fault--the fact of the matter is that the county has the ultimate say in funding, and, as I opined time and again in the pages of this site years ago, Montgomery County and MCPS officials tend to be myopic morons with zero capacity for critical analysis and thinking ahead. The teachers who left had already dedicated a significant portion of their lives to the program, and their retirements were more than deserved. The Program's rigor has precipitated a tradition and ethos of excelence--one that has been passed from class to class. As long as this rigor and this ethos remain, I don't think the program will derail.

    That said, I feel that a stronger alumni network could do wonders for helping the program through its present rough spots.
  • mark on August 14, 2009 at 11:25 AM
    The many things I don't like about Heidler. He did indeed kill the magnet program. 1) He tried very hard to keep qualified non-magnet students out of the program. Had he allowed such students to take advantage of the magnet courses, when the county came around to make cuts, he could have very well made the point that all kids at Blair benefited from the program. Yet, as he tried so hard to keep such kids out, he couldn't really use that for the magnet's defense. 2) His judgment is erratic and biased. In the academic year of 2007-2008, a couple students were found in violation of the computer use policy. One student received a very heavy punishment while not even participating in the violation. Heidler regarded himself as judge, jury, and executioner as he doled out punishment as he saw fit. Not the best person to have in charge. 3) He screws magnet kids, too. I see the magnet as a program with many accelerated classes which offers students the opportunity to take these classes and learn unhindered. Yet, all Heidler has done is to act as the gatekeeper and keeping students out of these fine classes. MathPhys was restricted to only seniors. My problem with Heidler was not that he restricted it to only seniors. He made an exception for one student and refused to give it to another. Favoritism. To be fully transparent, the kid I just mentioned is my younger brother. He will graduate in three years. Would have fulfilled ALL the magnet diploma requirements, and yet, Heidler would have refused to give him a magnet diploma, for graduating in three years. Yes, Heidler has done me wrong too. I am not surprised to see that Heidler has abandoned the ship that he has sunk. What a great captain.
    • Sahil on September 3, 2009 at 2:37 AM
      I can unequivocally say I am glad for the magnet that heidler has decided to leave. It will definitely do better without him. As some of you may know, I was the one punished for the computer use violation back in 2007. But what you all do not know is that I was punished based off absolutely no physical evidence, and my complicity was implied by the statements of the two other students who were actually caught in the incident. In the end, their words won against mine.

      At the time, heidler said I had no choice but to leave the magnet and transfer to my home high school. As it was my senior year, I pleaded with him to let me finish off my schooling here, and after much supplication he agreed to make a compromise. What was his deal? He suspended me for 10 days and recommended me for expulsion. How was this a compromise? In his words, "this way we'll let the Board of Education make the decision of whether or not you can stay in the magnet." This was a blatant lie, since now I was faced with the much more formidable possibility of being expelled - kind of like an all or nothing situation. He tried everything in his power to kick me out of Blair. heidler had, and still has, a grudge against me (he still won't accept my Facebook request lol)

      That's just my personal story, but in an unbiased sense I think he was unqualified to be the magnet coordinator. The position entails the special responsibility of looking out for the magnet in face of logistical and administrative obstacles so that students and teachers can focus on the halls of learning that have made the magnet so reputable. heidler failed in that respect because he didn't defend the magnet in face of budget cuts. As another reader commented, he is a career man and therefore didn't want to hurt his relationship with MCPS administrators. And this is not speculation; I know this because a magnet teacher who was present throughout the budget cut meetings told me so.
  • Eli Barnett on August 17, 2009 at 9:22 PM
    I certainly hope the magnet program does not die, seeing as the robotics team would most likely die along with it, being that it's 80-90% magnet.
  • ugh on August 24, 2009 at 6:04 PM
    when're they picking the replacement???? school starts next week!!!!!
    • C on August 26, 2009 at 12:02 PM
      Thanks for remining =(
  • Serves the Magnet right on September 3, 2009 at 2:20 AM
    I've been saying it for years. When I was a junior, i began to think that the Magnet became a one-winged plane spiraling out of control, until it finally burst into flames in recent years. Even after I graduated over a year ago, my feelings have not changed. I no longer carry any pride to have graduated from this institution. The magnet should be Left 4 Dead, because it just hasn't worked. Why can't people accept a result they don't like? Blair is a terrible location anyway, with undesirable demographics.

    And Heidler? Let me point out a historical allusion. Back in 2001 when the Enron Scandal was being uncovered, the company executives knew they were on a sinking ship. Their CEO of that time, Jeffrey Skilling, knew things were going bad. What did he do? He resigned of course, in August 2001. Instead of fixing the mess he created, Heilder just took off like Jeffrey Skilling. Just up and left. How responsible is that? Running away is the coward's way out. I feel sorry for the Elementary School kids he will be with. They will grow up to be terrible human beings if they follow Heidler.

    I feel no sympathy for the Magnet. In fact, I am a little relieved that the Magnet will collapse on its own. I do not need to come back and crush the Magnet myself. Internal collapse and a poorly selected administration will lead to its own undoing
    • What's wrong with you? on February 6, 2011 at 10:22 PM
      You seem quite bitter about the Magnet, and quite wrong. It's been two years now, and nothing has "collapsed" in the magnet yet. New science courses are being offered in the next year, and new students are coming in.

      Heidler may have resigned, but that doesn't mean the program has fallen.

      Overall, I am disappointed that a graduating MAGNET student would not appreciate a single thing about this remarkable high school . You had the opportunity to learn so much, and yet you compare our program to a silly game and our school as having "undesirable demographics".

      I don't know what made you sink so low as to say that you would "crush the Magnet" yourself, but I have to say that your voice will be drowned out by the hundreds of others like me who love this school for what it is.

      MBHS is a talented school, with great teachers and awesome students. Go Blazers!!!!!
  • uh (View Email) on March 6, 2013 at 4:29 PM
    i go to barnsley...
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