Magnet coordinator resigns unexpectedly

July 25, 2009, midnight | By Masha Lafen | 14 years, 11 months ago

Dennis Heidler to take position as assistant principal of elementary school

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. 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."

Masha Lafen. More »

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