Local News

New Principal Faces Big Challenge At Durham's Hillside High School

Posted August 24, 2006 10:21 a.m. EDT

— Friday is the first day of a new school year at Hillside High School, as well as the beginning of a new era.

A state judge has threatened to shut down the Durham school because of poor performance. Now, many are hoping a new principal with Triangle ties and a reputation for turning schools around will be just what Hillside needs.

"Nobody is going to outwork me, and I'm going to work just as hard as the teachers so that we have success here," said Earl Pappy, the new principal at Hillside.

Hillside is one of two Durham schools in jeopardy of being closed because of poor academic performance. Half of the students at Hillside fail the basic state proficiency tests each year.

The 48-year-old Raleigh native came from Richmond, Va. He's been described as honest, goal-oriented and no-nonsense. He comes from a school that faced a similar predictiment, and he said it now meets state standards for the first time in its history.

"Like your father, (if you're) not doing what you are supposed to be doing, you're going to get spanked. If you're doing what you are supposed to be doing, you get kudos, a pat on the back," said Pappy.

On Thursday night, Pappy presented the Durham School Board with his plan for improving student achievement. He knows expectations are high and people are counting on him, but he is counting on them, too.

"If you think only my presence is going to create that success, it won't happen," said Pappy. "We must have all the stakeholders involved to ensure the success of the school."

Southern High School is the other Durham school with failing test scores. The principal from that school also presented a plan for making improvements to the board. The governor has ordered the schools to develop a plan this year and implement it next year.