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Principals chosen in Jefferson County

August 26, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Richard A. "Doc" Keeler confidently rattles off a list of plans he has for Jefferson High School, from giving it a "good strong dose of organization" to proactive education programs geared at keeping kids in school.

"We've got to do something to reduce the dropout rate at Jefferson High School," said Keeler, who was named principal of the county's high school on Monday night.

In recent years, more than 100 students have dropped out of the county school system, many as they were going from junior high school to the 10th grade.

To combat the problem, Keeler supports the use of the SUCCESS initiative, through which students at risk of dropping out will be paired with four special teachers, an administrator and a counselor. The role of the teachers will be to work closely with the students and help them focus on school, Keeler said.

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Keeler said if proactive programs like SUCCESS are not started at Jefferson High, then youngsters will be in a "reactive mode," exhibiting attitude and attendance problems.

Members of the Jefferson County Board of Education said they are excited about Keeler taking the helm at the school. Board member Pete Dougherty said Keeler has the rare quality of demanding high standards yet having a caring nature toward students.

Keeler's appointment was one of two approved by the Board of Education on Monday.

Susan Zigler, a teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary School, was named principal of the school. Zigler replaces Mike Martin, who accepted a teaching job in Loudoun County, Va.

Keeler replaces Marc Arvon, who took the principalship at Bedington Elementary School in Berkeley County, W.Va.

Keeler, 57, has a wealth of public school experience. He started his teaching career in Berryville, Va., and taught throughout Virginia, including in several schools in the Richmond, Va., area during the desegregation era. He was superintendent of Warren County, Va., schools for eight years and was vice principal of Musselman Middle School in Berkeley County.

Keeler said he wants to have Jefferson High School to have a strong organizational system that will enable people to understand the school and its mission. There also will be consistent discipline, and students will understand the consequences of bad behavior.

"These are young adults here, and I expect them to act that way," Keeler said.

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