August 4, 2001
New leaders will greet students
at 20 schools

By Kellie Patrick
Education Writer

New Boca Raton High School Principal Ed Harris wants to create an orderly
campus with a well-disciplined student body.

He also wants to galvanize teachers so all of them help improve students' reading

But while Harris knows exactly where he wants to go, he said he has much
listening and learning to do before deciding how to get there.

"You have to have a vision," he said of the principalship. "You also have to be able
to collaborate with all constituents -- parents, students, faculty and staff."

Harris, 51, comes from Northboro Elementary and takes the place of former Boca
High Principal Diana Harris, who now leads Duncan Middle School.

He is not the only principal who will be introducing a vision to a new group of
parents, teachers and students. More than 20 schools will have different leaders this

Most of the changes came in June, when Superintendent Art Johnson transferred
20 sitting principals to new schools.

New principals must win the trust and respect of their teachers, students and

"They need to communicate openly and directly, they need to be visible and
accessible, and they need to make well-informed decisions, which sometimes
require accepting input from staff, parents, and in some cases, students," said
South Central Area Superintendent Elizabeth Decker. "I think if they do all those
things, they are well on their way to developing trust and respect."

Two schools that Decker oversees will have different principals this year: Carol
Blacharski takes over at Congress Middle School in Boynton Beach, and Helen
Gleicher becomes principal at Northgrade Elementary in Lake Worth.

Harris, 51, started meeting with parents and teachers soon after his appointment.

The transition will be harder at some schools than at others.

Ellen VanArsdale, the new principal at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, has an excellent
reputation among high-level administrators. But she follows in the footsteps of
Amelia Ostrosky, a principal so well-loved that parents and students picketed the
School Board and met with attorneys to try to keep her at the magnet school.
Ostrosky, who now leads Jupiter Middle School, stopped fighting when the district
agreed to let her keep her salary.

VanArsdale could not be reached for comment.

Kellie Patrick can be reached at or 561-243-6629.
High School's new principal, Ed Harris,
started meeting with parents and
teachers soon after his appointment in
Staff photo/Nicholas R. Von Staden