An educator never knows if an incoming call or email is going to be good or bad: a child needs to be disciplined, a coveted guest has agreed to headline an assembly, a fox is hopping atop cars in the parking lot (yes, that last incident happened at George Fox last fall).
When Glen Burnie High School Assistant Principal Glenna Blessing learned that her application and interview landed her the promotion to principal of George Fox Middle School, it was a good message.
“Stranger things have happened, but I was definitely surprised,” Blessing said. “I’m honored to be here and it’s a great opportunity.”
Now in her 17th year in education, Blessing is grateful for the many opportunities she’s received. She worked her way up the administrative ladder after starting her career as an assistant professor at Goucher College and dance department chair at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, both in Baltimore County. She then became chair of the Performing and Visual Arts program at Annapolis High School before joining Glen Burnie High School as an assistant principal in 2014.
Glen Burnie High School Principal Scott McGuire spent only six months working with Blessing, but that time was enough for her to leave a lasting impression.
“Glenna is a collaborative leader,” McGuire said. “She really built strong relationships with the students, the parents and the kids. She was also innovative and created solutions to problems.”
Since starting her new position on February 1, Blessing has already noticed a difference in her everyday experience. “I’m used to looking up at a lot at the high school boys, and now I can see my students at eye level,” she said with a laugh.
Yet some goals are the same. “There’s a shift in curriculum,” she said. “It’s still about growth in academics … and for [the children] to be college and career ready, it’s about making the robustness and rigor aligned to what they’re going to face in high school.”
Blessing said she is still having discussions with her leadership team but they are focused on math skills and leveraging the AVID program, which is designed to provide academic support to students, preparing them for four-year colleges and universities.
That doesn’t mean academics will be the sole focus. The staff at George Fox Middle School will continue to support the creative endeavors of students.
“While we think school and we think academics, it’s important to think about the holistic aspect of a child and letting them shine by showing off their passions,” Blessing said.
To enable student success, Blessing said she wants to be transparent and give teachers the tools and support they need.
“I value that I can leave my door open to communication,” she said. “If there’s something good [a teacher] wants me to see or if there’s a problem, I want to help because we want to make each person the best instructor they can be.”
For students to get the most out of their learning experience, Blessing said George Fox will emphasize meeting their “diverse learning styles and preferences.” But school needs to be fun too, she said.
Blessing enjoyed seeing kids decked out in semiformal attire for the Valentine’s dance, and she eagerly awaits the eighth-grade promotion ceremony and the Fox Fair, which is held in June.
“That’s probably the biggest event at George Fox,” she said of the fair. “We have everything from snow cone machines to three-legged races. It’s like a carnival affair.”
With all of those elements, Blessing believes George Fox will be a welcoming place where students want to learn.
“We have to allow our students to guide our focus,” Blessing said. “They are our due north, our compass, which is something [former principal] Russ Austin started. We want there to be a joy in teaching and a joy in learning. We want everyone to enjoy coming to school.”