by Evan Kean and Theo Lebryk

One week after leadership changes at Stuart High School  and Glasgow Middle School were announced, new Principal Penny Gros and former Assistant Principal Shawn DeRose directly addressed community members for the first time at the April 22 PTSA Meeting.

Because of the large expected turnout, the meeting was moved from its usual location of the library to the auditorium. The audience was filled with a mix of parents, teachers, administrators and students representing both schools.

Along with Gros and DeRose, Superintendent Karen Garza, Region 2 Assistant Superintendent Fabio Zuluaga, and Mason District School Board Member Sandy Evans spoke as well. Other prominent members of FCPS included School Board Member Ilryong Moon and Region 2 Executive Principal Jay Pearson.

The meeting began with a ceremony in which the Bailey’s Crossroads Rotary Club was recognized for donating $25,100 to Stuart, Glasgow, Bailey’s Elementary School and the Key Center, which helps educate students with disabilities and autism.

From there, much of the meeting centered around the the surprise change and the future of the two schools and their new principals. Gros and DeRose started off by giving short speeches about what lies ahead for them in the upcoming months, including new challenges and things they are looking forward to; both agreed that they would, at first, spend most of their time listening and learning about their new environments before making any permanent decisions.

“I’ve got to recheck my barometer,” Gros said. “Because middle school kids: we just stay on top of them. We want to make sure they’re following the rules, and it’s very structured. We don’t allow a lot of things in middle school, and I realize high schoolers need a little more freedom and a little bit more independence.”

DeRose’s speech focused more on his past experiences, including thanking all those who have been with him and helped him over the years, from his family to his fellow administrators. He also touched on how he wanted to support the work that Gros had started at Glasgow.

“Penny has done a great job of building a terrific culture at that school. I want to continue to support the hardworking teachers at that school,” DeRose said. “I’m excited for the next couple of months and trying to continue to build upon the great things that are happening at Glasgow.”

Unsurprising, when the panel opened the floor for the audience, the very first remark given was about how the suddenness of the change of principals might affect students who’ve formed bonds with their previous principals.

“I absolutely want to give the kids an opportunity to say goodbye, especially those six and seventh graders that I’ll be separated from for a period of time,” Gros said. “It’s very hard to leave.”