By Maya Pottiger
After Jason Anderson’s departure in November, John Wojtila was announced as the new principal of Riviera Beach Elementary School.
“Coming in midyear, I do come with that fresh perspective, seeing what is working, what’s in place, what I can do to build upon those structures that are in place in order to continue to move us forward,” Wojtila said.
Wojtila has worked in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for 12 years. He started his career as a fourth-grade teacher at Freetown Elementary and then became a Title I math resource teacher at Belle Grove Elementary. Next, he transitioned to Hilltop Elementary as the behavior intervention specialist; then he became assistant principal at Folger McKinsey Elementary. Immediately prior to Riviera Beach, Wojtila was the assistant principal at Freetown Elementary, where he started his career.
“Being a first-time principal, I think I’m in the perfect spot,” Wojtila said.
Because Riviera Beach is a smaller school, there isn’t an assistant principal for Wojtila to collaborate with when it comes to resolving issues.
“Being the principal, I’ve been able to pull from my different experiences, my different leadership roles I’ve had in the county in order to come up with a resolution,” Wojtila said.
The Riviera Beach community openly welcomed Wojtila, who has been able to meet families through various activities: Grandparents Day, Burger King night, Sundaes with Santa and the winter concert.
“I went to Burger King, and I honestly felt like a celebrity. Kids were jumping up from the tables, giving me hugs,” Wojtila said. “That was an opportunity for more of that personal time to sit down with families off the school campus.”
During the day, Wojtila shuffles between classrooms to get to know the 309 students.
“By the end of the year, I will know every name,” Wojtila said.
These classroom visits also allow Wojtila to learn the strengths and talents each teacher offers. Using this information, he nominates a Teacher of the Week in his weekly staff newsletter, and that person gets a special parking spot at the front of the school.
Wojtila said that Riviera Beach Elementary, as a neighborhood school, is truly unique.
“I’m honored to be part of that legacy that this school truly has and continue on with the traditions that are established,” Wojtila said. “The school really is the center of the community, and I will continue with that tradition and doing whatever we can to support the community.”