By Leighton Rowell
This isn’t Dr. Robert Shaw’s first time being the new face at school, so he knows what to expect in his first year as principal of Riverwood International Charter School.
“When you go to a new school, it’s kind of like you’re a first-year teacher all over again,” Shaw said. “You have to learn people, you have to learn systems, you have to learn kids’ names, and you have to learn all the different ways things function.”
North Springs Charter High School has a new principal, too. Dr. Eddie Ruiz of Orlando, Fla. replaces Dr. Lisa Stueve as principal at North Springs.
At Riverwood, Shaw replaces interim principal Ron Tesch. Shaw, former principal of Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, taught history and Advanced Placement Government at Avondale High School in DeKalb County and Campbell High School in Cobb County. He was assistant principal at Pope High School in Cobb before he became Hillgrove’s principal in 2009.
“I think being a high school principal is the best job in the world,” Shaw said.
Since he began at Riverwood’s June 3, Shaw has met with students, teachers and parents. He found them “committed and passionate.”
Shaw views Riverwood’s Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, athletics, and arts as the school’s strengths. He said that there is “some work to do” on the school’s End-of-Course Test scores. “There are a lot of strengths here, but there is always room to improve,” Shaw said. “We have to get those scores up and just make sure all of our kids are being served.”
In the past two years, Riverwood students and parents have watched two principals resign, one for personal reasons and the other shortly before he was arrested on charges of misusing a credit card linked to the school.
Shaw says he intends to stick around. “Every school has a history. As I told the staff, I need to be aware of it, but we need to move on and start fresh,” Shaw said. “If it’s under my control, I would like to stay here for a long time.”
At North Springs, Ruiz takes his first job as a high school principal. He has worked in education for 13 years. He taught four years of high school biology and chemistry before serving as a dean and an assistant principal at three high schools in Florida. Most recently, he served as the principal of Jackson Middle School in Orlando for three years.
“I’m excited about getting back to high school,” Ruiz said. “I keep hearing so many great things about the kids, the culture, and the traditions that go on here [at North Springs].
“I’ve talked to more than 60 teachers, parents and community members,” Ruiz said. “I’m listening to their perspectives about North Springs, what they think about North Springs, what they love about North Springs, [and] what they feel are areas of opportunity for North Springs.”
He wants “to make North Springs a place where teachers are excited about coming to work, and students are excited about coming to school at North Springs.”