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Principal's favorite spot is right in the middle

February 10, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Honest to goodness, Paul Engle thinks middle school kids are at a great age.

And the veteran middle school principal has built a successful career on that belief, which may not be shared by everyone.

In his first year at the helm of Clear Spring Middle School, Engle said he sees opportunities, not disadvantages.

"The challenge with this age is to channel all their energies in the direction that will help them map out their lives," Engle said. "That means giving them broad experiences in academics, clubs, sports, etc."

While his new post is at a somewhat smaller school, Engle said his three years as assistant principal and then five years as principal at Smithsburg Middle School gave him lots of experience dealing with adolescents.

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Engle was out and about in the hallways with students recently after they returned to their homerooms to pick up their report cards. Some youngsters approached to show Engle their improved grades.

The pressures on today's educators and students include keeping up with technology that is constantly changing.

"We are committed to having the most up-to-date computers here at the school, especially for the students who don't have access to one at home," Engle said.

A very active PTA has been holding fund-raisers designed to complete a new computer lab within a year, Engle said.

"We're hopeful," he said.

When he was in high school, Engle said, there was one computer. Needless to say, there have been big changes in education and technology since then.

A native of Frostburg, Md., Engle earned his undergraduate degree from Frostburg State University and his master's degree from Johns Hopkins.

Initially he taught social studies on the seventh- and eighth-grade levels in Carroll County, Md.

Later, he was an assistant principal in that jurisdiction before he had the opportunity to move a little closer to home by relocating to Washington County.

Engle and his wife have two children and live in the Boonsboro area.

"I was preceded at Clear Spring Middle by Roger Stenersen, who established many solid programs here," he said.

While at Clear Spring Middle, Engle said he will put a strong emphasis on reading that is age-appropriate and beyond grade level.

"All middle schools are doing this, too, but we will be employing aggressive and unique scheduling to achieve this," Engle said.

He will also focus on attendance. "It's already good here at Clear Spring Middle, but we will be trying to improve that even more," Engle said.

All of his goals go toward maintaining a positive climate for learning at Clear Spring Middle, Engle said. To that end, teachers are encouraged to contact parents with good news about their children, as well as about problems.

Engle said he loves what he does and is proud to serve with a staff that is devoted to youngsters, their well-being and their future.

"In a great environment for learning, we can prepare them to be the best that they can be," Engle said.

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