Weber a year-round educator
It is just after 7 a.m. and all is quiet on the elementary campus of Hillsborough Elementary School. There is much history and transformation over the decades since the school since opened its doors. Now, as the only year-round school in the Orange County Schools district, class is about to be in session and it is the middle of July.
Standing in the drop-off line is Steven Weber, who began his third season as principal July 15, having previously been the director of secondary instruction from 2006-2012. The first group of vehicles arrives and from his station, he greets each child with a high-five, fist-bump or he helps untangle a book bag.
“Good morning,” Weber calls to each child. Most he knows by name. Those he doesn’t, he will remember to seek out. After a few mornings, he knows them and whether they prefer a fist-bump or a high-five.
From Arkansas to Raleigh, Weber came to Hillsborough and enrolled his kids in Hillsborough Elementary as fourth-grade and kindergarten students.
“I love public schools and HES had a reputation when I arrived as being really special,” says Weber. The concept behind year-round is non-traditional to those who were traditionally schooled from August through June. Here, students report to school during the middle of July and they attend school nine weeks and then are given a three-week intersession.
“We used to sell the idea based on research. But now we just know that kids hit the wall and they have to have a break. We also don’t have the same start-up challenges as traditional schools after the long summer break,” Weber said. “More importantly, the schedule is really appealing to our staff as adults, they hit a wall, too.” The school maintains a waitlist to get in.
“Our kids that go on to middle school from here do very well. Year-round school is the perfect environment for kids that are gifted in that they don’t get bored and it is also beneficial for those with learning disabilities as it gives them a chance to learn and get a needed break, too,” Weber said.
Upon becoming principal, Weber and his staff agreed that along with the Common Core educational strategies that HES would also focus on fostering creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills.
“These skills are very important and direct feedback from the corporate world in terms of what students will need in the future and what they may be lacking, now,” Weber said. One of the Weber’s passions is communication, and as a frequent contributor to articles and educational blogs, Weber was recently recognized as one of 22 nominees from across the country, and the only elementary school principal for 2014, for his contributions and work as a communicator, by the Academy of Education, Arts & Sciences.
“It is the highest professional honor I have received and more importantly it is reflective as it is something that is voted by parents and staff,” Weber said. Of the goals he is most proud at HES, Weber speaks to bringing social media to the school by way of a school app and using Twitter to communicate information to parents.
“I also believe in being with the kids. When I was in school the principal walked into the cafeteria and everyone became quiet. When I walk into the cafeteria, the kids want me to sit with them so they can tell me what they are learning in math. It’s an awesome feeling,” Weber said. “One of the special tangibles at our school is just how much our parents and volunteers come and help and give and donate and become part of this family. They recognize that we are all part of the process of teaching kids and by having positive influences we can affect the future of a child.”
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