Our View – Good luck to Riddile, Donley and T.C. Williams too

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Best of luck to soon-to-be-former T.C. Williams High School employees Mel Riddile and Kerry Donley. Riddile will leave his job as principal to pursue a position with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Donley is vacating the athletic director position to pursue perhaps a more familiar profession, politics.

While both T.C. higher-ups deserve a genial farewell and a good luck nod, perhaps in need of the most luck is T.C. Williams itself, now that its principal and athletic head are leaving.

Arriving two years ago at a massive construction site, Riddile had the challenge of living up to former principal and local educational juggernaut John Porter. Two school years and one gleaming new high school later, he may not have had enough time to eclipse the legend, but he managed the transition to a new physical and educational landscape like a pro.

It could not have been easy to earn the respect of T.C. students right off the bat, but in Riddiles first year, safety-related offenses against student and staff dropped, according to the Virginia Department of Education. These statistics come after outsize numbers in the previous school year, and are a testament to his leadership at the student and faculty levels.

Riddile also led the high school through the formative years of a somewhat experimental technological transition, overseeing each student receiving a laptop and engaging in a digital classroom. He steered the high school forward despite commotion resulting from the school boards internal woes, ending with former superintendent Rebecca Perrys resignation.

As for former Mayor Donley, he seems to continually find a way to serve the city in some way. His leadership was no doubt appreciated at T.C. during the athletic achievements of his tenure, including the Varsity Boys Basketball team winning the state championship this year, plus individual records broken and scholarships attained by a multitude of athletes.

Donley can only serve the city further, on a policy-making level, by seeking Del. Brian Morans (D-46) seat.

Having given this praise, as beautiful as the new Earl Lloyd basketball court is, and as green as the new structure may be, T.C. Williams will sorely miss Donley, and especially Riddile.

Riddle may have only been around two years, but he represented a potential rock of a principal, a foundation for the future. His leaving for whatever reason will hurt a high school that, along with the rest of the school system, still lacks a permanent superintendent and works under a school board deemed by many parents and citizens as fruitless.

Whoever takes the helm of the U.S.S. T.C. will have their work cut out for them. Whether dealing with the states rigid Adequate Yearly Progress rating, the Standards of Learning tests, or just filling a now gaping void, the right person for the job will have to be an exceptional educator and administrator to keep the ship on course.

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