A Distinguished Principal
Solley Elementary principal Robert Wagner, a Glen Burnie native, works hard to make sure his school runs through a collaborative effort.
In his seventh year at Solley Elementary, principal Robert Wagner knew he wanted to be a teacher after volunteer tutoring children and adults in math while at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in the early 1970s.
The Glen Burnie High School alumnus realized that his two strong areas were mathematics and helping people, and teaching just seemed to be the right fit.
After getting his bachelors degree from University of Maryland, College Park, he began teaching in Anne Arundel County in 1977. After spending a little more than six years as principal at Odenton Elementary, Wagner transferred to Solley in 2004.
“I like changing [schools] periodically and looking for new or different challenges,” he said.
Wagner, who lives in Columbia, said making bonds with the Solley community is something that has been important to him while at the school.
“Forming a strong relationship with staff, students and parents is essential to being successful,” he said. “The principal has to empower the teachers to work collaboratively to give the best education we can to our students.”
That mindset is part of what lead to Wagner being named Maryland’s 2011 National Distinguished Principal by the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) earlier this year.
The National Distinguished Principals Program was established in 1984 “to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities,” according to a press release from Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS).
According to the release, MAESP officials cited Wagner’s “outstanding work as an instructional leader, his willingness to work with teachers to analyze data and develop strategies to help children, and his ability to provide professional development to implement those strategies to help all students succeed.”
Joshua Webster, a fifth-grade teacher who worked with Wagner at Odenton Elementary before joining him at Solley, said the principal is a lifelong learner who always strives to improve.
“I always felt that he wanted to teach as much as be a leader. You can always find him in the classrooms observing [or] participating,” Webster said.
Collaboration is key at Solley for Wagner and his staff.
“Being visible in the building [is important]. Visiting a class every day shows teachers and students that you care,” Wagner said.
And Wagner makes it a point to not only be seen around school, but also know everyone.
“He knows every staff member by their families and kids and truly tries to know every child not only by name, but by abilities, likes, dislikes and families,” Webster said.