On August 25, Wilson Wims Elementary School in Clarksburg will open its doors to its first class of students. The next day its first ever principal, Sean McGee, will celebrate his 41st birthday.
McGee, who started teaching in New York about 20 years ago, had never celebrated his birthday while school was in session before moving to Maryland. Since then, his birthday has always fallen on or around the first day, which is a nice gift for the teacher turned administrator.
When it was announced that construction would finish and Wilson Wims would open its doors for the first time for the 2014 school year, McGee knew he had to be a part of it.
“That was me,” McGee said with a laugh, about reaching out for the job. “I expressed interest. I knew it was opening up. It was an opportunity to start from the very beginning with a community and a staff and to build our vision together.”
Before being hired at Wilson Wims, McGee taught in New York and Maryland for 10 years before becoming the assistant principal at Fox Chapel Elementary School in 2005, then moving on to principal intern at East Silver Spring Elementary School in 2007 and assistant principal at Laytonsville Elementary School in 2008. Most recently in his tour of Montgomery County schools, he was the principal at Damascus Elementary School for three and a half years. He made the switch from teaching to administration because of its greater reach.
“I liked having a larger impact, being able to work with adults as well as children,” McGee said.
Although he is not technically in front of a classroom of children every day he doesn’t think he’s ever truly “given up” teaching.
“I’m always teaching by talking to kids and talking to staff. I’m enjoying the ride right now. It’s a really rewarding position,” McGee said.
While McGee is a veteran in the education world, he’s never been with a school from its inception and he’s been learning a lot about what it takes to get a school running and the role that the school system has in the process.
“I think the biggest difference is being involved in the construction and building process and realizing how much of a coordinated effort it is for the school system. It’s almost choreographed,” McGee said. “There are all these moving parts. It’s amazing how much the school system is there every step of the way providing input with staffing, construction and supplies.”
The plans for the school were already set and in motion when McGee was hired, but he has been able to help with staffing and deciding who and what goes in each room.
“I think I’ve definitely had a lot of fun with it,” McGee said. “I got to go see other schools for ideas and really gain a better understanding about what happens in other schools.”
In the next couple days before school starts, McGee said all that’s left to do is “put in the finishing touches.” On Friday, the school will host an open house for the new students, their parents and the teachers.
“It’s the first chance for them to walk into the school, meet their teachers, see the classrooms and just navigate the building itself,” he said.
After that, the new school year starts rolling and the new principal is ready.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” McGee said. “I think this is a high energy staff and a high energy community, I’m really looking forward to beginning the journey together and create our history.”