W.Va. principal recognized for excellence

May 15, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Hedgesville High School is recognized for its academic excellence, provided by the teachers who work to help struggling students and who emphasize good writing, Berkeley County Schools officials said.

School Principal Don Dellinger said he noticed that a group of middle-school students entering Hedgesville High School did not have the necessary skills to be successful, so he came up with the idea of "a school within a school" to give those students an extra dose of the curriculum they needed.

The students have been showing improved academic performance and have indicated an interest in college, Dellinger said.

Dellinger's success at Hedgesville High hit a high point last month when the West Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals announced that Dellinger had been selected as the West Virginia High School Principal of the Year.

Dellinger was selected from about 137 candidates and will have a shot at winning the award on the national level.


Berkeley County Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon praised Dellinger for his "school within a school" concept, and the school's reputation for its writing curriculum and other academic strengths. Local school officials have been emphasizing the need for students to have good communication skills in today's work force and Dellinger said Hedgesville High has instituted a reading program that cuts across all courses, whether it's math or physical education.

In math, students might have to write a statement justifying their answer when solving a math problem or if they are picking a sport for physical education, they might have to research the activity and write a report about it, Dellinger said.

While Dellinger receives praise for his work, he also is skilled at putting good faculty teams together and "letting people be creative with their ideas," Arvon said.

"When you walk in the building, you feel the pride. Donnie sets that tone," Arvon said.

Dellinger's history with Hedgesville High School goes back decades.

He graduated from Hedgesville High School in 1974 and after obtaining a bachelor's degree in math education from West Virginia University in 1977, Dellinger returned to the school to teach math. Dellinger's other work at the school has included coaching and serving as athletic director before being named principal about seven years ago.

Dellinger said the school has been a great place to launch innovative academic programs and it is made more effective by support from parents.

"When you're around good people, good things happen. I think that's what goes on here at Hedgesville," Dellinger said.

Dellinger's wife, Gerri, teaches special education at the school and Dellinger's daughter, Amanda, graduated from there in 2004.

The Herald-Mail Articles