Milliron named top choice for Floyd Dryden principal

Candidate already well-versed in school's biggest concerns

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2001

Schools Superintendent Gary Bader will recommend Tom Milliron as the new principal of Floyd Dryden Middle School.

The Juneau School Board will consider Bader's recommendation at its meeting Tuesday.

Milliron, assistant principal at the 600-student school in the Mendenhall Valley, would replace Sue Clifton, who is leaving after two years at Dryden and in Juneau. Clifton said she will join her husband in Wyoming, where he works as a construction manager.

"I love Dryden and I love Juneau," Clifton said. "We just decided it's time we lived in the same state."

The school site council publicly interviewed Milliron and the other finalist candidate, Charlene Hymel of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday afternoon. The council has been concerned about issues ranging from bullying, the school's poor physical condition, and scant financial resources, said parent Sean O'Brien.

"I think his familiarity with the Juneau School District and Floyd Dryden in particular probably gave him the edge he needed," Bader said today of Milliron.

Milliron has taught high school math in Juneau, and has taught in small schools in Southeast and in the Bahamas and New Zealand. He is a Ph.D. candidate in educational leadership at Florida State University and has held the Dryden assistant principal's job for two years.

Milliron said the team-teaching model, which is used at Dryden, is critical to integrating content areas at the grade levels, and he'd like to consider using the team concept across grade levels.

"I think that's one of our weakest areas," Milliron told the site council. "We need to have more meaningful communication and reflective dialogue taking place between grade levels."

Milliron also said Dryden needs to protect programs already in place, such as English as a second language and accelerated math and reading classes.

Milliron placed stock in using experiential-based programs as a way of engaging students who are at risk of failing and dropping out.

"Oftentimes students are at risk because they don't see a connection between education and their life," he said.

Milliron said he doesn't favor social promotion, which refers to promoting students to the next grade regardless of their achievement. "I think it sends the wrong message," he said.

But the school needs the resources to help students who have been held back. Dryden has worked with eight retained students, who were given double classes and study periods in their first semester so they could rejoin their peers in the second semester.

"We tried that this year with some success," Milliron said. "The problem is we can't serve a large number of students that way."

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.



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