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Principal Hogan made a connection with students

When students talk about Bremerton High principal Eric Hogan, they say he’s easy to talk to and takes the time for them, and for some peculiar reason, he is always running wherever he goes.

After only a single year at the principal job, both students and teachers are mourning the fact he is jogging all the way back to Tacoma to take the principal job at Franklin Pierce High School.

“I love the guy as a principal and as a friend,” said senior Chris Gonzales. “He connected with students in a way no other principal can. He’ll come up to students in the hallway and ask them questions. He’s not the type of person that thinks he’s better than anybody else.”

Hogan started running through high school hallways when he was studying to be an administrator at Franklin Pierce High School and one day had to talk to 60 students in 90 minutes.

“In an attempt to accomplish a large workload, instead of calling them into my office I ran out to see them,” he said.

He brings that same go-get-em enthusiasm to every work day.

“If you are going to create change you have to create energy,” he said.

Hogen says he always treats students like they are young adults, “because they are.”

He talks to them as equals, not like children. Many of the students complain that they get talked to like children a lot.

“You can tell he cares genuinely about every student here,” said Rebecca Clemen, Associated Student Body school board representative.

Added senior Jon Fraser, “When a principal has such spirit like him, it’s easy to get into school spirit. It’s going to be hard for Bremerton to find someone like him.”

Before taking the principal job at Bremerton High School, Hogan worked for 12 years at Franklin Pierce High School teaching math and history before starting administrative work. In 2000, he took the assistant principal job at Bremerton High School and got the principal job last April.

He is moving back to Franklin Piece to be closer to children. It will be a 10 mile drive from home.

“While we are very disappointed at losing Eric, it is a very understandable move for him,” said Joan Dingfield, Community Services Coordinator for Bremerton School District. “As you know, high school principals put in 12-hour days as a rule, and Eric was commuting from his home in University Place; as a father of young children, he was missing a great deal of family time.”

Currently, Dingfield is working with the school board to post a position and advertise throughout the region for a new principal. Because it is so late in the year, the game plan is to find an interim employee for the next year, but hire someone permanent for the 2005-2006 school year.

“District administrators are meeting with Bremerton High School staff this week to ask them what the attributes are they would like in a principal,” she said.

One thing that will be hard to replace in the principal’s office is Hogan’s edge-of-the-seat attitude toward the job.

“He has more energy than anyone I have ever met before,” said Amanda Harty, a senior who answers the phone in the registration office two to three times a week.

Mindy Beal, a junior at Bremerton High, said one day Hogan just came in to the cafeteria and sat down at her lunch table.

“He sat down and ate lunch with us. He talked to us like an equal. He’s very personal.”

Hogan’s window at Bremerton High School looks out on to the main hallway, where the school’s 1,100 students file through every day, which is fitting considering how much he tries to interact with the students.

“I try every time we have our kids in the hallway to go out and say hi,” he said. “If you use a business analogy, they are the clients. We have to approach them as the clients. What are their needs?”

Since Hogan worked at Bremerton High, he launched the Drawbridge program, an individually based contract education which allows students who are in need of an alternative learning environment an opportunity to work in the real world.

Additionally, he has been working with the consulting firm, the BURC group, focusing on how to transform the classroom into a place where the students are putting in more effort and engaging in the learning.

“Many students in large high schools find that what we are teaching is not relevant.”

One of the teachers who is a great proponent of the BURC ideas is Bremerton’s social studies and anthropology teacher Alexys Haun.

“The thing that I really like about it is it stresses the importance of concepts over details. ‘How does this connect to your life?’ ” she said.

About Hogan, Haun has enjoyed his leadership and wants to see someone in the position that is similar to him.

“The thing that I’ve always been impressed with about Eric is he’s willing to trust his staff to do what they can do,” she said.

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