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NEW PRINCIPAL Leader brings passion to learning community



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Some people might feel that 34 years in public education is enough, but Dr. Donald Robinson isn't about to quit.

He retired from the Pontiac, Mich., school district earlier this year and has signed on as the new principal at Eagle Heights Academy, a charter school on Market Street established in 1998. His annual salary is $70,000.

Robinson, 57, said he isn't starting a new career.

"Right now, it's an extension of my passion to work with children and family," he said.

Classes for the 1,000 pupils in kindergarten through the eighth grade begin Tuesday.

The school is seeking to change its image, a makeover aimed at changing how the school looks and how it is perceived, he said.

Superintendent Alex Murphy, who doubled as school principal last year, recently announced that the Eagle Heights Academy Board had appointed Robinson as principal.

Robinson's r & eacute;sum & eacute;

Robinson, who said he has a two-year contract, spent the last 32 years in the Pontiac school system as a teacher, principal and assistant principal.

Before that, he had worked as an educator in Bay St. Louis, Miss., for two years, launching a special education program.

While in Pontiac, he spent some of his summers in the mid-1980s teaching at a facility for wayward girls in Dearborn Heights, Mich.

Murphy said Robinson, who began his duties here Aug. 17, brings a reputation as an advocate for children, teachers and parents, and Eagle Heights looks forward to using his strong background of experience in his new position of leadership.

Robinson said he learned about Eagle Heights while talking with friends and relatives in the Youngstown area about academic progress children here were making.

When he learned that the school was looking for an administrative leader, he chose to apply and came to town in July for an interview.

Instant connection

"I came; I saw; I walked the streets of the community," he said, recalling how he stopped to talk to residents and business people.

He left the city feeling that Eagle Heights was really serious about education, children and their futures.

"I fell in love with their mission and their vision," he said, referring to the school's mission and vision statements that stress a choice in public education coupled with providing opportunities to all pupils, which will allow them to reach academic, social and emotional success.

The school says it seeks to provide a learning environment that motivates students and offers a family-school-community partnership.

The latter is particularly important to Robinson, who feels it is vital to educate both children and their parents.

"I felt a real connection," he said.

Sometimes, educators have to go out to visit parents, he said, referring to it as "an outreach division of the classroom."

Parental support is extremely important, he said, adding that he's already contacted many of the Eagle Heights parents.

"I got nothing but support from them," he said.

The immediate focus is on reading skills, Robinson said, explaining that it is important to get pupils reading at their grade levels.

He wants every child to be comfortable with his or her reading ability. If a child can read, other academic areas fall into line, he said.

The goal is to get pupils reading at their grade level and performing above any standardized test, "to soar as an eagle, as our name implies," Robinson said.

gwin@vindy.com




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