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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Robert Sinclair Jr., the new principal at James Hubert Blake High School, has a unique perspective as the parent of two students attending Montgomery County Public Schools.
He has daughter who is a sophomore at Northwest High School and a son who is in seventh grade at Kingsview Middle School, both in Germantown.
“A lot of what I do is based on what I have seen as a parent,” he said. “Seeing my kids’ experiences and mine as a parent definitely helped me as a middle school principal, and I think it will be especially valuable as a high school principal.”
Sinclair, 42, said he plans to approach things by looking at what they are doing at Blake and questioning whether he would want it for his own child.
“That is how I plan to approach things,” he said.
Most new Montgomery County Public Schools principals began their assignments on July 1, but Sinclair was not appointed until the Board of Education’s July 31 meeting. He reported to Blake on Aug. 1.
He said the later-than-usual appointment was due to the late resignation of former Blake Principal Christopher Berry, who announced his retirement in July. Berry accepted an administrative position with Frederick County Public Schools.
Sinclair is the third principal in Blake’s 20-year history.
The past few weeks have been busy, with the opportunity to meet the staff along with some parents and students.
“I have met a lot of really welcoming, engaging people,” he said. “I know people who worked here and I had done a lot of research before applying for the job, so I knew what to expect coming in — a lot of teachers who care very deeply about their students.”
From 2014 until July, Sinclair served as the principal of John Poole Middle School in Poolesville.
Previously, he was the assistant principal and principal at Redland Middle School in Derwood.
Sinclair has worked for Montgomery County Public Schools since 1998. He was a classroom teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Glenmont and Northwest High School in Germantown, a math resource teacher and eighth grade team leader at Redland, and a student support specialist at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg.
“I am coming from the smallest middle school in the county, so this is a huge change in size and demographics,” he said. “I do have experience from being at Kennedy and Northwest.”
Sinclair said his desire to be an educator began as a high school student in New York. He had planned to go to college to major in accounting, but “swap day” gave him the opportunity to teach his English class.
“I loved it and my teacher loved how I did,” he said. “So, I ended up going to college to become a math teacher. I also had a lot of family members that were educators.”
Sinclair became an administrator at the urging of a department head at Northwest, who suggested that he look into leadership. He became head of the math department while at Redland and assumed other leadership roles that evolved into administration.
He enjoys administration, but is determined to maintain contact with the students.
“It has killed me to be here and have so many meetings with adults that have kept me from all the things happening with the students,” he said. “The office side is not my favorite — I much prefer being out and about with people. I’ve tried to spend some time with the athletic teams and marching band as they have tryouts and practices.”
Sinclair said he intends to be visible — something he has learned that parents, staff and students strongly desire.
“I plan to be outside greeting kids in the morning and we’ll see how high school kids respond to that,” he said. “I also plan on being in classrooms, watching and helping teachers.”
Sinclair’s goals include focusing on meeting the needs of all students and engaging the student voice.
“We also need to build a connection with home, especially based on our population, which is really spread out,” he said. “We need to build that sense of community and make that stronger.
Other goals include improving the use of data to measure performance, and enhancing programming.
“Because we are a fine arts and humanities signature school, we need to look at enhancing the program to continue to make it attractive,” he said. “We need to continue to move things forward for students to have a humanities experience that prepares them for the future.”
Amy Creel, Blake PTSA president, said that Sinclair seems very open to working collaboratively and has made it clear he is passionate about connecting with students and staff.
“He seems to appreciate the diverse needs of a community like ours and at the same time holds high expectations for all students,” she said. “My main goal as PTSA president is to strengthen our school community and I feel like we have a partner in that with Mr. Sinclair.”
Sinclair, his wife and children live in Germantown.
In his spare time, he enjoys technology and spending time with his family.
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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