Chesapeake High School’s new principal has a simple goal: make a positive impact.
John Yore, who for the past seven years was the principal at Meade High School in Fort Meade, was appointed to the position at CHS over the summer. He replaces Stephen Gorski who is now an assistant principal at South River High School.
Yore spent the summer talking to parents, students, teachers and members of the community to identify what’s great, what’s good and what can be better at CHS.
“The last thing I want to do is come in and change things just for the sake of change,” Yore said. “There’s a lot more good things happening here than problems.”
With that in mind, his initial effort is aimed at establishing and developing connections within the classrooms and throughout the hallways.
“This first week of school, it hasn’t just been a lot of going over a syllabus; it hasn’t been just rules,” Yore explained. “It’s been about building relationships and building trust.
“Certainly the academics are a critical part of what we do, but even before that, one of the things that I feel very strongly about is the importance of focusing on a foundation that supports the psychosocial and emotional wellbeing of students,” he explained.
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Yore got into education because he enjoyed serving young people and serving the community, passions he discovered as a student at Largo High School.
“When I was at Largo, I was involved in the Maryland Special Olympics,” Yore explained. “I became involved working with students with disabilities, or students who had unique challenges very early in my life, and I really enjoyed working with young people. So when I finished my education, I had the opportunity to work as a motor development specialist in Prince George's County.”
The early parts of his career continue to serve as a foundation for his beliefs and approach as a principal. As a special education teacher, he taught motor development and adaptive PE. In the mid-‘80s in Prince George’s County, his first assignment was working at a hospital's adolescent psychiatric ward.
“That being my first experience as an educator really had an eye-opening impact on me,” Yore said. “I certainly realized that there are so many things that can impact children.”
From that point, he loved being in the classroom and had no plans on being an administrator. However, in his 12th year of teaching, he had an opportunity and ended up doing some administrative work that changed the course of his career.
“Within three or four weeks, I realized how much I loved it,” he said. “While I loved my classroom and my specific group of students, having an administrative role within the school meant that I was able to actually have more contact with more students, more teachers and more of the community as a whole. I became really immersed in it and I really liked it.”
Now he’s focused on ensuring every student has a safe and meaningful experience every day in order to maximize their ability to learn and achieve.
“For me, it’s one of the moral imperatives that I believe,” said Yore. “We can’t afford to have a single student come into this building and not have a connection. We [must] figure out how to support them and connect them to something or someone.”
When Yore says every student, he means every student.
“Ninety-eight percent sounds really good,” Yore said. “But if I look at the 2% who aren’t being successful and [my son or daughter] is on that list, 98% doesn’t sound so good anymore. When you look at statistics, 90 to 100 is a really good statistic. But when it involves a human being, 100 is the only good number.”
Yore thinks the students at Chesapeake are some “pretty phenomenal young people,” and now that school's in session, he is excited to have the opportunity to lead them.