Pikesville High School principal Sandra Reid was taken by surprise in her school’s library earlier this month when students and staff helped her celebrate being selected as Maryland’s 2018 High School Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals.
Reid joined Pikesville High School in 2015 following an eight-year tenure as principal at Pine Grove Middle School. Reid, who earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, was named Secondary Principal of the Year by Baltimore County Public Schools last year.
Scott Pfeifer, executive director of the MASSP, explained that the organization solicits nominations for the award from around the state. Those nominated are then encouraged to apply for the honor. This year, eight principals applied from 50 individuals nominated. An extensive process goes into determining which principal is chosen.
“A committee of principals from around the state review the applications and choose our winner,” said Pfeifer. “We look at leadership, at a category called personal excellence that looks at involvement in various professional activities, at collaboration with staff, at personalization with students in the school and at expertise in curriculum and instruction. What she has done in Pikesville High School really exemplifies all of those characteristics more than any of the other applicants.”
Reid will be honored at the MASSP spring conference on March 30 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, as well as at a Maryland State Board of Education meeting in September.
“I am immensely honored to serve this community,” said Reid. “I am really blessed to have the support and encouragement that I have tangibly received, and I share this honor with the entire Pikesville learning community and beyond that, the entire state of Maryland.”
Reid became an administrator because of her passion for education, citing it as one of the noblest professions, a springboard for all other professions. She sees secondary school as a vulnerable time for many people. By showing love, concern and passion, she hopes to inspire students to become productive members of society and future leaders.
When Reid first came to Pikesville High School, the community was disenchanted with a school that they felt no longer lived up to its reputation of old. “Students had no pride and wanted to be elsewhere, teachers were leaving to go to other schools, and the community was nervous about what was happening,” she said.
The solution was to reignite the passion and pride that had once existed for Pikesville. Her first action was to establish a motto for the school, embodied in its initials: “PHS: Home of Pride, Honor and Success.”
“Creating that pride, honor and success was our call to action,” said Reid. “It has permeated all aspects of our school. Now it is a creed — we branded it, we marketed it, we put it everywhere. In every aspect of what I do, I try to make certain that the students feel connected and inspired. We need to be proud of every student, be it an artist or an athlete. We want the students to really know that we care about their success and well-being.”
Reid’s commitment to and vision for the Pikesville High School community have reinvigorated many parents. Casey Parson, president of the Parent Teacher Association at PHS for the past three years, was part of the vetting committee that initially interviewed Reid before she was confirmed as the school’s principal.
Parson explained that the committee understood how special it was to find a principal such as Reid from their first meeting, explaining that Reid’s “deep-seated desire” to bring out the best in students and in the school was apparent. It was evident when she asked everyone in attendance at her first meet-and-greet about their concerns and goals for the school.
Beyond a motto for the school, Parson said that Reid went above and beyond to inspire school spirit. For example, at the start of the school year, each student was given a purple shirt emblazoned with the school’s new motto. On Fridays, students no longer wore purple just for the Ravens. It became Purple Friday for Pikesville as well.
“Staff and students soaked it up, and we started seeing a real change,” said Parson. “There was an aspect of excitement that everyone undertook. It really rejuvenated the school. I am a graduate of Pikesville, and I consider myself fortunate to be part of the experience that is Sandra Reid, because she really does bring a whole new level to the school. She deserves every accolade that comes her way. She works exceptionally hard.”