— Surprises are always fun.
On Wednesday, June 8, Principal Walter Reap walked into what he thought was a staff meeting. Instead, he was greeted by members of the City of Hyattsville Police Department, City Administrator Tracey Nicholson, Policy and Community Coordinator for Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2) Wanika Fisher, and Principal Reap’s supervisor, Regional Instructional Director Brian Baudoin. Reap said he walked in and immediately braced himself to hear either really good news or really bad news. You could say the encounter was a little of both—a truly bittersweet moment.
After two years, Reap will be leaving Edward M. Felegy Elementary School at the end of June to become the new principal at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore.
The surprise presentation was a chance for city and community leaders, school administrators, and staff to say good-bye and thank you to the principal who means so much to the West Hyattsville community. During the presentation, Reap received a certificate of appreciation and a proclamation.
“Principal Reap has been an invaluable member of this community. He shaped a wonderful culture of learning in our new elementary school and was a tremendous community partner. We wish him the absolute best in his future endeavors,” said City Administrator Nicholson.
When I spoke with Reap, he shared that the decision to leave the school was indeed a difficult one.
He began his work at Edward M. Felegy Elementary School in 2014. At the time, the West Hyattsville school had just opened its doors. For Reap, it was his second new school. Prior to coming to Hyattsville, he served as principal for nine years at Germantown Elementary in Annapolis. In 2013, he was named Anne Arundel County Parent Teacher Association Principal of the Year.
“To hear about the relationship and the impact that you’re having in the community … it exceeds any type of recognition I have ever received. To know that the community feels that way about you and the work that you’ve done, and the people that you work with [also feel that way] fills my heart with so much joy,” said Reap.
Just by talking to him, I felt his energy and desire to have an impact in the community.
Reap says engaged families, a supportive community, teachers who want to be there, and students that care about one another are the ingredients of a successful school.
I would add one more ingredient to that successful school recipe: a strong, visionary leader who cares about instruction, children and the community.
We wish you the best, Principal Reap.