After serving as principal of the Center for Applied Technology North for 10 years, John Hammond is set to retire at the end of February.
His replacement, appointed Wednesday, will be Daniel Schaffhauser, an assistant principal at the school, a career-training center in Severn.
The two men have been working together at CAT North for a year and a half, but they have known each other for more than 30 years. They met in 1975, when Schaffhauser, who had recently graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a degree in administration and supervision, applied for a job at Lindale Middle School.
Schaffhauser was hired as an industrial arts teacher, filling the job that Hammond was leaving. Schaffhauser stayed at Lindale for 23 years, while Hammond went on to Arundel High School, then to several other schools, the central office and CAT North.
Now Hammond, 57, is once again creating a vacancy that will be filled by Schaffhauser, 55. "We've kind of paralleled each other," Hammond said. "I couldn't be happier that he's going to replace me. He'll take it to the next level."
Hammond said Schaffhauser was his first choice for the new principal. "I gave my opinion very strongly that he was the right person," he said. "The technology center is unique, and it takes a person with a knowledge base that is unique."
As it happens, that knowledge base is not so different from Hammond's.
Both men have backgrounds in industrial arts, both have degrees from Johns Hopkins and both served in the central office, an experience they consider valuable for running the technology center.
The technology center, which opened in 1974, offers 26 career-training programs, ranging from culinary arts to desktop publishing and automotive technology. CAT South, which is smaller, serves the county south of Severna Park.
Students in both public and private high schools in Anne Arundel County can take classes at the technology centers.
Though high-school students in county schools are not required to take career-training programs at the technology center, the programs are growing in popularity. Ten years ago, Hammond said, about 1,250 students in grades nine through 12 attended. That number is now up to 1,900.
One nice thing about the center, said Hammond, is that "every student who attends here is here by choice."
Students get hands-on experience, working with real cars in automotive classes, preparing food in a real kitchen for culinary classes and even running a beauty salon for cosmetology classes.
Hammond has been involved with the technology center for 21 years. He was an assistant principal there, then he worked at the central office before returning to CAT North to serve as principal for 10 years.
In that time, he has seen a lot of change. The center works closely with local businesses to make sure students are being educated in the latest skills and technologies. Representatives of each industry visit the school at least once a year to talk about the programs and make recommendations.
"We're a direct linkage to the business community," Hammond said. "They advise us on what to add, what to take away. ... As a result of that, we're constantly changing."
Computers are now a big part of nearly all the programs, and both the hardware and software are upgraded regularly.
"Our goal here is to provide our students with entry-level skills in their chosen skill area," Hammond said. Some will go on to college and apprenticeships, while others will be equipped to begin work right away.
Hammond, who has been with the school system for 35 years, said he is retiring with no regrets. "It's time for me to step aside and let someone else have a swing at it," he said. His wife recently retired, he said, and they plan to travel. He'll also take on some home projects.
As for Schaffhauser, he's eager to begin his new role as principal. "We get our marching orders, so to speak, from the industry," he said. "Don't expect any kind of wholesale change. This is a good operation right now. John has done an outstanding job."