Q & A With Mrs. Hafets; Centennial’s principal reflects on her tenure before she retires

Words: Meghan Moore

This article is an extension from an article in the Senior Issue.  To download your own copy of the Senior Issue, click the link: https://chswingspan.com/print-addition-archives/

 

Hafet’s opening remarks:

I became a principal in 2008, I was promoted to Burleigh Manor Middle School. So my entire 10 years as a principal has been in this community, which is so special, right? I can’t imagine being more fortunate because this community is… I feel very attached to it. The students-when you walk down the hall they don’t just say “Hello” they say “Hello Mrs. Hafets.” Their mannerisms, they are such polite, respectful [students]. I do feel very fortunate… I’ve had so much being the principal. I remember when I first came to Burleigh Manor, I remember thinking “No wonder nobody ever transfer,” it was just that much fun, that exciting- and of course coming with everyone to Centennial-

You already have so many relationships and bonds formed and you can only add on to those, how was it to see some of these people grow from little sixth graders- who don’t know anything- to these adults who are going to take over the world. How is that for you as a principal and as an educator?

It’s been absolutely amazing, and I actually spoke to that last year at graduation, it’s been absolutely amazing to see-well even you- from sixth grade to know 18 years old and how everyone has matured and developed and just grown into wonderful young adults. Again, very responsible. I mean, what I have learned from everybody, it’s not just me, it’s what you all have given is tremendous. Every weekend, you know, I’ll hear from some of the teachers-or the students-, and it’s all the athletic awards, the academic awards, the clubs… they just don’t compete, they’re first place. I can’t even keep our outside sign up to date on everything… That has been so exciting, I love sharing that with everybody.

 

Talking about how Centennial has changed and what she has accomplished:

 

There’s a lot, when I first came here, my charge was to make sure to develop instructional leadership, develop communication, and school spirit. And hopefully in the past five years that I’ve been at Centennial, all of that has happened, I mean I think the murals in the hallways and the bulletin boards… I think student voice has become very strong here, and hopefully that will continue because I think what the students in this building have to say should be listened to… I look [out] there and I see these are the future doctors and lawyers and teachers and physicists and all of that… You have to take those risks. If you  fail, that’s all right because that’s a learning experience too, and I guess that’s my philosophy on life… If you don’t try, how do you know? I’m always about, “Let’s try it and we’ll see what happens.” I feel like the school spirit- not just the “Ra-Ra” but the facility itself, we’ve done a lot with security and door swipes and more cameras… I think with communication [within the community and school] having TV’s in the hallways, having the Student Community Canvas page, weekly newsletters, daily notices- I’m hoping that the community and the students always know what’s going on… that’s really important that they’re all part of it. [For] staff…. Weekly instructional team meetings to let everyone know what’s happening, so communication was really important and that needs to stay open and strong [in the future].

 

Going on to talk about academic achievements at CHS

 

Centennial should be the flagship school in the region, and it is, and we have made tremendous strides in the past five years… 98-99% of students go onto college, whether it’s two or four years…98-99% of students should be taking college-level courses in high school so they can get to see what it’s like. We have increased the number every year-more and more Centennial students are taking those AP or GT courses…. Ninth graders that come in, who are scheduled for all standard classes… for the past four we have made it a goal to push those students. Three years later, they’re going into twelfth grader, 63% of them are now in honors, AP, or GT courses which is really important… it’s been just a great experience…no questions it’s going to be very emotional [leaving]… I can’t really think about it.

Personal reasons for her retirement:

The reason I am retiring is because my husband retired. We’ve been married 46 years, we’re not just husband and wife, we’re best friends. We have a home in Park City, Utah- where we’re going to be moving- my family’s there. So it’s difficult for everybody to be out there and for me to be here. That’s really why I’m retiring… otherwise-

So if you could do another 20 years you would?

I would… but there’s no guarantee that I would stay here… and I can tell you, if I was transferred, I’d be done. I would not start over at another high school. I’m a Centennial Eagle, I will retire as a Centennial Eagle, I could never be anything else. I’m very blessed to have been placed in [the Centennial] community. Hopefully, what I have done, people have appreciated, my goal is really just to provide all of the opportunities that I can for all of you and hopefully that’s been done and that will continue.

What made you decide to go into education and then become a principal, what drew you to the profession?

I was a middle school teacher, I taught English for a long time, and I loved middle school. I guess I just enjoyed being with the students. That’s an interesting question. What do I like about it? I don’t know, its just.. You guys are fun… you definitely energize me. I’ve always enjoyed working with students- but not young children! I did teach high school for six years in Montgomery County at [Thomas Sprigg] Wootton High School way back in the 70s. Back then, they didn’t have family medical leave, so if you had a child, you either came back to work or you resigned. So I resigned. If I think about it… I worked my way all the way [to the top]… I was president of my children’s nursery school, and when they went to elementary school I substituted, and then I was president of PTSA, and eventually got a long term subbing position at Wilde Lake Middle School and then that long term subbing position became a teaching position… it sort of just happened. I tutored awhile through Hopkins. From being a teacher I became a team leader, and from being a team leader… I went back and took a couple of courses and became an assistant principal-I loved being an assistant principal.

That’s more testing, right?

Well, in the middle school, yeah it was. But you were really very involved with the students and not personnel…and then I applied [for principal] and they promoted me. From the nursery school all the way here. I wouldn’t mind consulting…but I won’t really do much yet, I want to enjoy my grand-baby.

As you leave Centennial, what do you hope to see for the school- and how, whoever comes in next, how they add on to what you’ve worked so hard to build over these past five years?

Certainly, I think about it… I’m hoping that the students in the building continue to have a voice.. That sounds very cliche but there’s an extremely intelligent and articulate group of students in this building and they should be… if a third [of the voice] is the community, and a third is the staff, then a third should be the students…If they have an idea and the person’s not sure about it, then they should still go with it…I believe in that, you don’t know unless you try. That’s probably my philosophy on life, that’s probably how I ended up here (laughs). Another thing of course would be the facility itself… that this facility… there’s no renovations that are supposed to be taking place in the next 10 years or further… so hopefully the person who comes in will to continue to…advocate for the school; which would be the students, the staff, and the community…What tends to happen, Meghan, is because students do so well here, they always think that Centennial doesn’t need anything, but Centennial needs a lot. We need new computers, we need to keep up with our facility…there’s so many little things…I’m hoping that the person who comes in, needs to advocate very, very strongly has to have a loud voice to be heard, and to not be afraid. Collaborative leadership… the decision making needs to be shared. The third one would be that expectations are kept high, that there are high expectations for the staff and the students instructionally…making sure the students and staff have what they need to be successful. That’s what I’ve tried to do and that’s what I hope continues…I really hope all that continues. And that’s how I feel [about leaving Centennial] without crying about it. I’ve always felt that we were a family, I felt that way from day one, from 2008. I’m more a part of this community than I- and I’ve been living in my house for 34 years- and I know more people in this community than my own community (laughs)

It’s almost like this is your home

This is my home

 

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