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New principal hopes for long-term stay at Eisenhower

New principal hopes for long-term stay at Eisenhower
John Mangrum is the new principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, he sixth principal at the school in five years. (Photo by Nate Pesce, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School has seen five principals over the last five years.

The school's new principal, John Mangrum, plans to buck the trend of principal turn-overs at the South Laurel school.

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When he interviewed for the job, Mangrum told Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of Prince George's County Public Schools, that Maxwell wouldn't need to worry about a new principal at Eisenhower for the next six years if he were to be hired.

"I want to shake the hands of current sixth-graders as they walk across the stage at Laurel High School to receive their IB [International Baccalaureate] diploma," Mangrum said.

Since joining Eisenhower on Jan. 26, Mangrum says he has been "welcomed with open arms.

"They're excited to have me here and I'm excited to be here," he said.

Eisenhower is a candidate to become an IB World School in 2016, a program that offers students an internationally focused curriculum that stresses deeper analysis and connection across subject areas.

Although Mangrum is still familiarizing himself with the details of the IB application, he said he supports the concept of students becoming "global thinkers" and thinking outside the box.

In a statement, Maxwell said the school system was focused on selecting a candidate that best met the needs of the school community.

"Parents, staff and students were looking for stable leadership, a commitment to increasing student achievement and a desire to improve the culture and climate of the school. I believe Mr. Mangrum was the best fit for this leadership role," he said.

For the past two-and-a-half years, Mangrum had served as the assistant school administrator at Montgomery County's Wheaton High School in Silver Spring.

Prior to that, he held administrative positions at Pyle Middle School and Francis Scott Key Middle. Before becoming an administrator, Mangrum was a health and physical education teacher for eight years.

Mangrum, whose father was a high school instrumental and choral instructor in Illinois, said he entered the education field because of a passion to give back and help students.

"That's what is exciting about being a principal, because now I can really affect change and have a key role in that process," he said.

Among Eisenhower's principals in recent years are one who was let go following an alleged assault at school.

In November, Dwight Jefferson, a former principal at Eisenhower was indicted on child abuse and second-degree assault charges stemming from a September incident in which he allegedly punched a student.

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Jefferson was replaced by John Brooks, a retired principal who held the post until Mangrum was hired.

Nearly three-quarters of the students at Eisenhower qualify for free and reduced meals. According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 72 percent of students statewide participate in the program.

Mangrum doesn't envision any challenges at home affecting students' performance at school.

"My philosophy is when students walk in our doors we have them and we do everything we possibly can to provide them with quality education," he said.

A community meet and greet with Mangrum is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the school.

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