His goal is to create a climate where everyone feels welcome and learns something
By Lisa Tetrault-Zhe
Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 21, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[lisa tetrault-she photo]
HAMPTON -- When students at Winnacunnet High School learned last year that Bill McGowan was being promoted from vice principal to principal, one of their biggest concerns was that he would no longer be accessible to them. But that's not been the case.
"When I first started, I was an assistant principal. The next year, there were four of us, so I was placed in charge of the freshman class," said McGowan. "I've watched them mature and grow over the years, both behaviorally and academically, some with my guidance. Many of them asked me if I would still be their principal this year, so that they can still come see me despite being assigned to another assistant principal. And, of course, I'm here for them."
Being a part of the Winnacunnet community for the past six years has made McGowan's transition to principal a smooth one. He spent one year as an assistant principal and five years as vice principal. He was promoted to principal after his predecessor, Randy Zito, retired at the end of the school year. According to McGowan, Zito recommended him to the School Board as his successor.
"Everything has been going well this year; we've had no major problems," said McGowan. "Last year Randy (Zito) knew he was retiring, so he put more responsibilities on me."
Being a high school principal has always been a goal of McGowan's, who started out teaching math in Lowell, Mass., before relocating to New Hampshire. He holds several degrees — bachelor's and master's in electrical engineering from Northeastern University; a master's in math from Boston University; and a master's in education/CAGS from Rivier College in Nashua. He also completed all of his coursework toward a doctorate in education from UMass Lowell. In total, he's been in the education field for 20 years.
"I love the interaction with the students, teachers and staff here every day," he said. "I'm part of everybody's life that interacts with this school. My goal is to create a climate where everyone feels welcome and learns something. I often feel that I've learned more from my students sometimes than they've learned from me."
The transition has been a smooth one for staff as well.
"Bill has been here for years, under which he has had a chance to become part of the Winnacunnet community," said Jamie Marston, curriculum administrator. "He's well liked by the students, faculty and staff. He's calm, thoughtful and sincerely interested in what's best for people here, be it students, the teachers or the community."
On a daily basis, his biggest challenge is being consistent across the board.
"We need to be sure what we have for one student we can offer for all," said McGowan. "We also need to look at how we can support our teachers; how we can give them the resources they need in the classroom. Great teaching leads to great learning. If we can't provide resources for great teachers, we'll never be able to provide students with great learning."
Making sure his high school is competitive with other schools is also a priority for McGowan.
"We've had a lot of successes here, and I want to keep that going," he said. "We'll have a NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) evaluation in 2013. When they come to visit the school, I want to be sure we are where they want us to be. I want to be sure that whatever day they come in, even tomorrow, we're ready. ...; It's the culture of Winnacunnet to provide the best we can for all students."
In his spare time, McGowan coaches rowing. He and his wife own an equestrian business in Durham and their daughter is a student at the University of New Hampshire studying equine industry management.