reason high school is improving
WRHS’s Hume seeks
Express Staff Writer
the guys who were cool in high school and sat in the back of the
classrooms in a kind of hip guy posse? Well, one of those guys is now
running the circus. He’s Graham Hume, the new principal for the Wood
River High School. He brings 33 years of experience to the job as well as
a fresh and engaging outlook, with a little of the hip guy imp thrown in.
Hume, principal of Wood River High School. Express photo by David
fun to tease and be teased," he said in reference to the hail-fellow
relationship he has with his fellow teachers.
had three choices last year. After 30 years in the Seattle School District
he was moving into an uncertain limbo-like territory, where he could
either retire, get a job out of education, or relocate. After years in the
Pacific Northwest, his wife, Nancy, was urging him to opt for some
an old friend from Washington, John Evans, had recently taken the
principal’s job at the Hailey Elementary School. The Humes came to Idaho
for a visit, drove around the valley and liked it.
Hume had decided he didn’t want to leave education, after all. He
applied for jobs as high school principal in Las Vegas and Phoenix ¾ and
then in Hailey, after hearing that the job was suddenly available from
did the Humes take the job here, but they have set down permanent roots by
building a home, which they’ve just moved into.
want to be part of the community," Hume said. His wife, who was a
guidance counselor in the Seattle area, is working part time at the Nordic
Center in Sun Valley.
couldn’t be happier with what I’ve done, okay?" he said about the
move, "I’ve never been in a friendlier place."
"okay?" often when talking. It’s a teacher thing, making sure
that the listener is actually comprehending what he’s saying.
roots are ingrained, since they began taking shape on his 22nd birthday
with his first teaching job at a junior high.
Hume became the principal at the Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett,
Wash. It’s considered one of the top 100 technology high schools in the
One of the
first things Hume did, after being offered the position at Wood River, was
to take last year’s student leaders out to lunch at Shorty’s in
Hailey. He asked them, "‘what is it that the school does for them
other than graduation.’ They answered ‘nothing.’"
bothered me," he said. So, when he began his job last fall, he
immediately gave them things they’d never had. These include a sense of
"ownership by the kids," recognizing the seniors before the
whole school at the first assembly, student leadership classes and letting
students put on assemblies. "The kids here are really
He is also
working on several changes that could be implemented by next fall. One is
a senior project, which would be researched and worked on the entire
school year with mentors in the community.
going to take it to the board as a graduation requirement," he said.
involved in these projects learn how to learn, and provide a product. They
present their projects at the end of school to a panel of business people,
educators, politicians and locals. "It’s a marvelous
He wants to
make sure there is an emphasis on "writing across the
curriculum," and that "high expectations are the norm."
In an early
staff meeting his teachers showed him what their expectations were as
well. Good news—"eighty percent said ‘We want to improve.’"
to work hard and be better, he said of his staff. The Academic Counsel,
which is made up of teachers, staff and Hume, is also "working hard
to examine new courses and curriculum. A number of things have happened
because of them. And we have a great Parents Teachers Organization,
739 students enrolled at Wood River High School this year. That number
will swell to at least 1,000 by next year when the extra large class of
2005 arrives as freshman. By 2003 the school will have moved into the new
high school that is being built. Hume has experience with building a new
school in Washington, which was another reason the board ultimately
offered him the job. Indeed, he can string together a quick list of school
requirements, from janitor’s closets to which way doors open, when
asked. "That’s the fun part."
seem almost as fond of him as his staff does. And he’s very hands on.
"I believe in site based decision making." The staff is learning
his ways, he said. "You have to walk your talk."
friends and associates in Washington told him he’d have it easy going to
a smaller, rural school. He laughs that notion off. "It’s still the
same 70-80 hours a week. Maybe I’m just stupid, but I can’t do it any