When students returned to Belmont Ridge Middle School after winter break, there was a new leader in the front office.
Patch sat down with new principal Ryan Hitchman to ask about his background and learn more about his vision for the school.
Ryan Hitchman received a masters degree from Western Maryland College/McDaniel College and is working on a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech. He is a native of Latrobe, Penn. and is a diehard Steelers fan. He is married and he and his wife, Carisa, have a 75-pound Golden Doodle.
Hitchman has been a ninth grade world geography teacher, a high school civics, world history and U.S. history teacher and assistant principal at the high school level. Mr. Hitchman served as a middle school principal in Montgomery County, Virginia and St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Christiansburg Middle School was Hitchman’s last stop before joining the staff at Belmont Ridge.
Patch: What drove you to work in education?
Hitchman: I have always been interested in history and geography. My grandmother was very encouraging and we would take trips to historical sites. I was fortunate to have several wonderful social studies teachers in junior and senior high school. During high school and college, I worked as a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons and lifeguarding. I enjoyed teaching and watching the children be successful and learn a new skill. I also began coaching in college and decided to combine my love of teaching to my interest in history and geography.
Patch: What are you most proud of in your education career?
Hitchman: There is not one thing or award I can point to. The most rewarding moment is when a student comes up to me and thanks me for making a difference in their life. Whether it was through listening, teaching, coaching, or giving advice, I take a genuine interest in students and I feel a sense of pride when a student says thank you for not allowing them to give up on themselves. Teaching is more than just sharing content. It is more about building positive relationships and providing guidance and assistance.
Patch: What attracted you to this job?
Loudoun County Public Schools has a excellent reputation for being a progressive school division with high expectations and placing a value on education. Belmont Ridge Middle School is a high performing school with dedicated teachers, motivated students, and supportive parents. The opportunity to serve as principal of a high performing school in a supportive school system was an opportunity I could not pass up.
Patch: What do you think will be the keys to success in continuing the good work the school is doing?
Hitchman: The key is not to become complacent. There are new challenges that await every year. Whether it is changes to the SOLs, increasing enrollment, or new state requirements, the key to continuing the success of Belmont Ridge is maintaining high expectations and providing support to our students in order to reach those expectations. Building positive relationships with parents and community are also keys to continuing the success of Belmont Ridge.
Patch: Are there any changes you are looking to make?
Hitchman: I plan on doing a lot of listening and observing in the next few months. There are no areas that need immediate change but there are changes that will effect teacher evaluation and student testing requirements. Remaining current on these changes to policy will be important to continuing academic success and will dictate changes that will need to occur. My goal is to be highly visible in the building. I enjoy being in classrooms because that is the most important area for learning to occur. Any support I can provide to our teachers to benefit our students will be examined. 8:40 til 3:45 is student time … during that time my priority is to the students of Belmont Ridge. Keeping a priority the priority is the key to long term success.
Patch: How do you see the working relationship between parents and the administration in the school?
Hitchman: I would like for our parents to feel welcome at Belmont Ridge. I also want to earn their trust and support. Our parents are sending us their most valuable possession:their children. We as administrators have an obligation to ensure they are being taught by highly skilled teachers and are able to learn in a safe and secure environment. I envision having an open line of communication with our parents and working collaboratively to providing the best education possible to our students.
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