A Harford County school official was named top secondary school assistant principal in the state Thursday.
Thomas W. Ackerman, assistant principal of Joppatowne High School, beat out 800 other assistant principals and was honored by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals at its annual conference at Fort Meade.
The winner is chosen based on letters of recommendation from school administrators and written responses from the nominees.
"It is a pleasure to have Tom as an assistant principal, to have someone to bounce ideas off of and who is enthusiastic and involved in the school," said Joppatowne Principal Doris L. Williams, who nominated Mr. Ackerman for the award.
Mr. Ackerman is quick to acknowledge the principal and Carl D. Roberts, assistant superintendent for secondary education in Harford County, who also nominated him. "Doris Williams and Carl deserve credit," Mr. Ackerman said. "They give you the leeway to do stuff."
He was referring to his involvement in the new four-period school day, which will be initiated next September; organizing a chemical-free cruise in the harbor for graduating seniors; and starting the school's Renaissance program, in which students are offered incentives, like free homework passes, to make the honor roll.
The day after he received the award, Mr. Ackerman was back on duty at Joppatowne, where he has been assistant principal for eight years.
"It's been a neat day," Mr. Ackerman said of the response he's received from students and faculty. "Being an assistant principal is not a big self-esteem job. I'd recommend this [the award] to anyone."
Mr. Ackerman, 47, said that today's assistant principals are "miles away from old ones."
In the past, he said, assistant principals were delegated to disciplining and housekeeping duties, such as to "make sure the heat is on the right temperature."
Now, the assistant principal has become more of a team with the principal, he said.
Mr. Ackerman started teaching math in the county in 1978 before he became assistant principal at Joppatowne High.
He lives in Baldwin, "the 5 percent that is Harford County," with his wife, Geri, and four teen-age sons.
Mr. Ackerman is now in the running for the national assistant principal of the year honor, which is to be awarded in Illinois in April.