Dean settles in at ECHS

Published 6:02 pm Friday, June 4, 2010

The first week on the job for Escambia County High School principal Joseph Dean has been eventful to say the least.

Dean, who was hired by the school board on May 27, first entered the doors as administrator of ECHS Wednesday and he has not slowed down since.

The 38-year-old Butler County educator and Monroe County native said he is “amazed” following his initial evaluation of the campus.

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“I think we are in excellent shape,” he said Thursday afternoon. “In fact, we are having a drop ceiling installed this week that is going to help beautify the building. Summer cleaning is also going on getting the building prepared for the upcoming school year.”

The replacement of portions of the school’s drop ceilings is part of work Dean said Superintendent of Education Billy Hines already had set in place prior to his hiring.

Overall, Dean said he is impressed with the condition of the facilities including the old gymnasium, which is equipped with both heat and air; the competition gymnasium; the football stadium and a majority of the classrooms. He added that there is a lot of work still to be done.

Analyzing the facilities was not the first thing on Dean’s to-do list. He said he spent most of his first days on campus buried in paperwork.

“The first thing I wanted to do was get a snapshot of where we are financially and, of course, I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Hines to discuss filling the openings that we currently have,” Dean said.

Dean said he plans to conduct interviews next week in hopes of filling the more than 10 vacancies. In addition, he plans to spend next week evaluating the staff in place.

“Like everything else, I’m working to set up meetings with the current staff,” Dean said. “We have certain plans that need to be put into place. I would like to have conversations with my other administrators, so we can work on the problems that were faced last year. We are going to put a plan in place to try to rectify those problems.”

Also, Dean spent time with newly hired head football coach and athletic director Mark Heaton, who he said has been busy preparing for new personnel.

“Coach Heaton is being proactive filling the positions he has on his staff,” Dean said. “I’m optimistic that he and I can come up with a plan of action and bring additional personnel to our campus that are both there to enhance the academics as well as the athletic aspect of Escambia County High School, which is vitally important.”

Dean added that the Blue Devils’ coaching staff are teachers first and coaches second.

“Like I shared with coach, and he concurred, we want our coaches to teach. Coaches only receive a stipend for coaching, they receive a salary for teaching, and I want to be extremely clear with that. Coach Heaton has the same views on that as well, so I don’t see any problems with him finding personnel that’s going to help him with his extracurriculars, but also will help us in the classroom.”

In addition, Dean and Heaton will work closely during day-to-day operations.

“It all goes hand-in-hand,” Dean said. “He’s responsible for what takes place on the fields and the court, and I’m responsible for what takes place in the bleachers and in the classroom.”

Dean has also received a warm welcome by members of the community.

“I’ve had numerous invitations to different events that are going to be taking place next week,” he said. “I wanted to spend this first week on site to try to get a snapshot of what lies ahead.”

Dean said he plans to put in late hours preparing for the new school year, which is just around the corner.

Escambia County High School Principal Joseph Dean stands in front of the school Friday morning after a walk through of the campus’ facilities with staff members. | Photo by Adam Prestridge