Backpacks, sharp pencils, and vibrant notebooks won’t be the only new things for students at Benfield Elementary and Jones Elementary schools; both will have new principals.
Sue Myers is now the principal at Benfield, and Jim Whisman now leads Jones.
Myers has been an administrator in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for the last 17 years. She begins her tenure as principal at Benfield after most recently serving for three years as principal at Monarch Academy Annapolis.
First-year principal Whisman, a Glen Burnie native, has spent his entire 14-year career in education in Anne Arundel County Public Schools, seven years as a classroom teacher and seven years as an administrator. He comes to Jones after most recently serving as assistant principal at Southgate Elementary School in Glen Burnie. Some Severna Park parents may remember him as a former fifth-grade teacher at Folger McKinsey Elementary.
Whisman said his educational philosophy is built around positive relationships, and he’s passionate about student learning and growth while providing meaningful, engaging opportunities that hook students’ interest and make connections to the real world.
“Sports, physical fitness/exercise, and outdoor activities have played a major role in my life and continue to influence my way of living,” said Whisman. “I believe that students should be provided opportunities for movement and interactions that teach collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills. I focus on the whole child, providing each and every student an opportunity to grow and succeed while identifying their strengths and interests to become better individuals and citizens.”
For Myers, a quality education starts by providing children with a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn.
“As educators, we have the unique opportunity to spark young minds to be curious about their world and engage positively with learning so that they become lifelong learners,” she said. “We should encourage our students to share their cultural uniqueness, and as educators, we should continuously model how exciting it is to be able to learn with each other and about each other. I also believe that our community plays a vital role in the schools and we should continuously seek opportunities to engage the parents and community.”
Whisman was immediately impressed with Jones, inside and out.
“The faculty truly care about the needs for each individual student. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with each teacher and staff member during the summer months to meet and listen to their stories and gather meaningful feedback,” said Whisman, who also noted the school has many assets to support student learning. “We have an amazing front office staff and custodial crew that will do everything and anything for customer service, and the outstanding and active PTA is truly involved in decision-making to support and enhance student opportunities at Jones.”
Myers had similar accolades for her new school.
“Benfield has such a great reputation for their staff,” said Myers. “I kept hearing about how much they care about each other, the children and community. This is something that I have witnessed from the very beginning.”
As principal, Whisman and faculty will focus on family, positive relationships, and collaboration. He said these words will drive the daily operations at Jones, and serve as a motto for everyone who walks into the building.
“I look forward to getting to know each and every member of the Jones faculty on a more personal level as well as forming and developing wonderful partnerships with the families and community members that support the academic, social, and emotional needs of our children,” said Whisman.
With Benfield Elementary being a Green School, Myers said the PTA has been generous in helping to build outdoor learning spaces.
“We plan to engage in professional development over the next few years to learn how to use the space instructionally and to spark our students’ curiosity about the environment,” added Myers.
Whisman and Myers are excited about their first days at their new schools.
“I plan on having a blast with all of the students through fun and engaging team building activities in the classrooms,” Whisman said. “I will be constantly visible in the school building and classrooms to show and model that I care about everyone at Jones Elementary.”
Myers added, “The first day of school has always been my favorite day. It is the start of a brand-new school year and comes with all the hopes and dreams of a successful learning adventure. We will greet our students, help them to their classrooms, and have lots of time scheduled for learning about their new classrooms and teachers.”