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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Dr. Eric L. Minus is the new principal of Sherwood High School, but he is not new to education.
He has years of experience in the classroom, as an administrator at several schools, and as director of the school system’s program to improve middle schools.
But his connection goes further than that: Education is in his blood.
His father was a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent. His mother was a counselor, physical education teacher and assistant principal. Two of his aunts were teachers and his brother is a vice president of a community college in North Carolina.
“Education is the linchpin in our family,” he said. “So much so that I ran from it in undergrad and went the biology/pre-med route, but minored in education because that is where I knew I’d eventually end up.”
Minus, 45, is a product of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), graduating from Montgomery Blair High School in 1991.
His teaching career began in Newport News, Va., but eventually led him “home” to MCPS.
It was while teaching biology and physics at Blair that his boss and former high school principal called him in and asked if he had considered administration.
He said he really wasn’t interested, but the following week he received information in the mail about an administrative/principal certificate program at Bowie State University.
His principal told him: “Class starts next week.”
“I went begrudgingly because I respected him, but after the first class, it bit me,” he said.
After completing the program, he served as the assistant principal of White Oak Middle School, the principal of Francis Scott Key Middle School in the White Oak area and as principal of John F. Kennedy High School in Glenmont.
Most recently, Minus was the director of School Support and Improvement of Middle Schools in the MCPS Office of School Support and Improvement Experience.
While he enjoyed that role, he said that jobs at the district level are year-to-year. When a reorganization was announced last year, he saw it as an opportunity. He refers to his new role as “Principal 3.0,” bringing experience from serving as principal at two different schools and his work at the district office.
“I was responsible for schools across the district, so my lens is so much wider,” Minus said. “It further sharpened my saw in understanding the complexities of principalship and how very thoughtful we must commit to being as we go about leading students, teachers and the community.”
The path led to Sherwood
Minus said that growing up in Silver Spring, he always watched Sherwood from a distance. He now lives adjacent to the Sherwood community in the Cloverly area.
“It is an inviting, welcoming place,” Minus said. “People truly care about the education of their kids.”
Since taking over on July 1, he has met with community, teachers, students and families – “Basically, I have met with anyone who was interested in meeting with me.”
The overriding message of those meetings was simple, he said: “As a community, we must continue to diversify and grow. We need to be equipped in a way to support all students and families living in the Sherwood Cluster.”
Minus has created Pillars of Excellence — Achievement, Civility, Engagement, Unity and Integrity.
“These were birthed directly from meetings I have had at Sherwood,” Minus said. “These are the things I think are important to take us to the next level.”
On Aug. 16, the school’s PTSA and Warrior Club hosted an event at the school to meet Minus. Organizers estimate that about 200 people showed up.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but there was a level of surprise by staff members at the large turnout,” he said. “I enjoyed getting to know more students and families and am grateful to the PTSA and Warrior Club for bringing the community together.”
Sherwood PTSA president Randall MacGill said the organization is “thrilled” to work with Minus as the school begins its “next chapter.”
“Dr. Minus was one of the standout principal candidates and we are privileged he is now with Sherwood,” he said. “He has a great vision, he is motivated to do the best for our entire school community, and importantly, a very nice individual who is easy to approach and work with.”
The Montgomery County Board of Education appointed Minus as the new principal of Sherwood at its May 21 meeting.
He is following William Gregory, who retired after serving as Sherwood’s principal for 12 years.
Minus earned a Doctor of Education, Administration and Policy Studies from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 2010; a Master of Science in Community Health/Long-Term Care Administration from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 1997; and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Hampton University in Hampton, Va. in 1994.
Outside of school, Minus is a proud father of a son, 15, and a daughter, 12, both MCPS students. He and his wife Cheryl have been married 20 years.
“Family is truly important to me, so when I am not at school, I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife and kids,” he said.
Minus loves music of all kids, especially contemporary jazz, fusion and contemporary gospel. He writes, produces and plays several instruments. He owns an independent record label with his brother.
He is also active in his church and loves all sports, especially the Redskins, Wizards and Nationals.
The 2,000 students returning to Sherwood this week will notice a new receiving area providing a more secure access to the building and fresh paint with lots of “Warrior blue” trim.
“We want to be sensitive to ensure that people are safe in our building and want kids to walk in and say, ‘Wow — I go to Sherwood,’” Minus said.
“There will also be reminders of the five pillars throughout the building, as a clear reminder of our purpose for being here,” he added.
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