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Principal starts with study time
Jim Stemple is a high school principal without students, teachers or even a building--at least not yet.

LEE WOOLF
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Date published: 9/8/2004

By LEE WOOLF

AMID ALL the commotion this week at schools throughout Stafford County, Jim Stemple is a principal who feels like a Maytag repairman.

Trained to solve problems and eager to help, Stemple must wait while the county's new high school on Mountain View Road in North Stafford is being constructed.

For the time being, the yet-to-be-named "High School '05" is a one-man operation. With no students, no teachers and no halls to roam, Stemple works alone in a room full of desks in the Aimee Building behind Stafford High School.

"I guess this is the calm before the storm," Stemple said. "I've never had an August like this. But I know it won't be long before the late nights will start. And by next August, things will be crazy."

Stemple, who earned his doctorate in education last spring at Virginia Tech, served as principal at North Stafford High School for 3 years before accepting his present job. A year ago at this time, he was dealing with last-minute concerns at NSHS and helping everyone there gear up for a new school year.

"I think most teachers always look forward to having their students back in the fall, and I think principals look forward to having their teachers back," Stemple said. "It's an exciting time. And I will miss that part of it this year.

"But I'm sure next year will make up for it, because there will be about five times as much to do in opening a new building."

Stemple said the design of the new school is similar to Colonial Forge High School and that construction is ahead of schedule.

Part of Stemple's time these days is spent in meetings--some with engineers and construction supervisors, some with county school officials and some with fellow principals.

Much of the rest of his time is spent planning for what he calls the "instructional delivery" he hopes to achieve at the new school.

Stemple said he plans to visit schools in Prince William County and perhaps in Maryland to observe firsthand some of the procedures he is considering.

The items on Stemple's list include block scheduling with 90-minute classes, the International Baccalaureate program for advanced students, a freshman transition program and even ways of making lunch periods more productive.


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