Gholson Middle School has 2 principals, a Pr. George's first

Ebony Cross, left, and Lacey Robinson are co-principals at Gholson Middle School, the first such model in Prince George's schools.
Ebony Cross, left, and Lacey Robinson are co-principals at Gholson Middle School, the first such model in Prince George's schools. (Raphael Talisman/the Gazette)

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By Natalie McGill
The Gazette
Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ebony Cross and Lacey Robinson are counting on two heads -- and then some -- being better than one when they take the reins at Landover's G. James Gholson Middle School this fall.

Cross, 35, and Robinson, 37, will be the first co-principal model in Prince George's County Public Schools, and they are counting on collaboration with staff, students and parents to create a vibrant learning community.

"Every child that walks through this building is a scholar," said Robinson, who will share an office with Cross. "Every child that walks through this building has a dream."

The two replace Jeff Parker, who will become principal at Suitland's Edgar Allan Poe Academy this fall. The system has not decided if it will expand the co-principal model, Tanzi West, a county schools spokeswoman, said via e-mail.

Cross, of Fort Washington, a former reading specialist from Oxon Hill's Valley View Elementary School, was named Prince George's County Public Schools' 2009 Teacher of the Year. Robinson, of Annapolis, comes from Montgomery County Public Schools' Office of Organizational Development, where she studied how race and culture affect teaching methods.

The two believe they can use the co-principal model to offset each other's weaknesses and fulfill each student's needs.

"She may have a pulse on academics one day; I may have a pulse on climate and culture," Robinson said.

Both have a number of ideas they want to present to the community for discussion, such as adding dance and drama electives and more language classes, such as Latin and French, next year.

Research is "scant" on the co-principal model, but some suggests it can reduce stress, create a balance between home and work for the principals, and allow for shared responsibility, Duane Arbogast, chief academic officer for Prince George's schools, said via e-mail.

"There is really not enough data to support or reject the idea," Arbogast wrote. "Our metric, of course, is the success of this school in terms of academic achievement."

During the 2009-10 school year, Cross and Robinson participated in the New York City-based New Leaders for New Schools program, which gives educators who seek to become administrators training as resident principals. Cross and Robinson were resident principals at Adelphi's Mary Harris "Mother" Jones Elementary and Landover's Dodge Park Elementary schools, respectively.

A resident principal shadows the full-time principal and gradually receives more administrative tasks as the school year progresses. The cost for New Leaders for New Schools is shared between the program and the county school system, Arbogast wrote.


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