Klein: Ready to Listen
On the day before the School Board met to approve him as principal, Ed Klein met with the Beachcomber to discuss his vision for the school. Read the full interview here.
What new ideas do you have for our school?
My first priority is getting to know the kids, getting to know teachers, parents, staff—all the people that I’m going to be working with. It doesn’t matter what new ideas I have so much as that we’re all working together to benefit the entire school.
Do you plan to continue the open campus policy?
From the discussions that I have had, yes, that is something that we are most likely going to continue. I’m going to look at everything we have here and see how everything is working and make refinements as we need to.
What is your position on prior review of student publications? Can you imagine a situation where you would censor a student publication and what would be the standard?
I think that prior review, especially at a secondary school, is good practice. As far as when I would censor something, that would depend on a range of topics, what the topic at hand is, how it’s presented, what the actual community reaction might be. As the principal, one of my jobs would be to have a gauge on all those aspects and say, “Hey, we need to exercise some more discretion here, or “No, this is fine, and we can push the envelope a little bit.” This is definitely a case-by-case situation.
How do you feel about coming into a school under construction?
I think it’s very exciting. I want to learn where everything is, (I don’t even know where the main office is yet) but learning where people go and making it run on the first day of school, that’s the priority right there. It’s an exciting opportunity.
What do you think about the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test)?
My concerns with the OGT are that it’s a one-time test that doesn’t truly assess our learning capabilities. Especially in the environment that we’re in right now, too much of adults’ efforts are teaching to that instrument of passing the test than for the sake of learning. I’m hopeful that with end of course exams, or more AP classes, or more ACTs that we can get to that level.
What concerns do you have about coming to BHS?
My concerns are all about getting to know people—again, that’s the most important thing I can put my efforts into. So my concerns are how fast I can do it and how fast I can build relationships with people and to, obviously, maintain them.
How do you think that Beachwood will be different from Euclid?
It’s a smaller knit community and a smaller high school. This will be better in terms of getting to know people, and working together to solve problems and move the organization forward. That should be easier in a smaller school and a smaller community. This whole high school is the size of my grade at Euclid High School. At Euclid, there’s 2200 kids. And I make it a priority to know as many of those kids as I can—their names, places, where they live, their parents—all of that will be easier here.
What excites you about coming to BHS?
The possibilities for increased efforts for student achievement—staff is focused on student learning, and students that are focused on achieving, and a community that is focused on student achievement. I’m very excited about the possibilities for that.
What do you think makes a good principal?
Relationships, being visible, caring, compassion for the individual, and having fun.
Favorite place to eat?
Every Sunday, my family and I have breakfast together—we usually go to a little diner by where we live. It’s not so much the restaurant, but the family time that we spend together. I guess I don’t have a favorite restaurant.
Where did you go to high school? What kind of student were you? What sports or activities were you involved in?
I’m from Pennsylvania originally, so the high school was Baldwin High School, and it’s in a suburb south of Pittsburgh. I started off very strong as a freshman academically and then I started slipping off. I ended up fairly decent—I was in honor society, graduated with honors—I could have done a lot better if I would have applied myself consistently through all four years. I ran cross-country and track and was involved in student council.
Do you miss being an English teacher? Why or why not?
I do. Being an English teacher allowed me to work with kids one on one, or in a smaller group setting than I do now. Seeing their growth on a day-by-day basis, instead of once a week here, once a week there, and so on. I enjoyed teaching kids about literature in the finer aspects.
What are your best memories of teaching English?
When we were studying The Odyssey, we were doing a reading of it, and somehow in this one class, we got into something that became like a Baptist Revival Church. I don’t know how we got there, but we were talking about Odysseus and the different gods and goddesses—it was very funny, it just happened, it wasn’t anything I could have taught.
This was a lesson that I was trying to do for Of Mice and Men. We were trying to do sock puppets, which was a good idea on paper, but not when executed. It just got away from me. What should have been a two-day lesson ended up going on too long.
Why did you decide to become an administrator?
I thought that being a principal would allow me to connect with more kids, to work with more kids, to help more kids.
Name one famous person (dead or alive) that you would like to meet
Ben Franklin—inventor, man of letters, philosopher, and an everyday person—I found him to be fascinating. And he had his weaknesses too, so he’s not like a hero, but he was a nuanced individual.
Anything else that I haven’t mentioned that you would like to say?
I’m just very excited to be coming to Beachwood—I’m excited for the opportunities, working with the kids and staff.