John Hilkert, 58, of Centreville, retired as principal of Greenbriar West Elementary School on Thursday, June 30. During his tenure, Hilkert has overcome many obstacles — such as a small school fire that occurred last winter — and implemented educational advancements for the 725 students who attended Greenbriar West this year.
"RECENTLY, MY administrative assistant called to tell me that part of the school was on fire," said Hilkert. "Construction workers were cutting pipes during renovation [around 7:45 a.m.], and some of the insulation caught on fire; but the fire was small and workers did a great job of putting it out. Kids were able to start school by [8:45 a.m.]."
Hilkert has also helped start technological advancements in order to provide a healthy and stable learning environment — such as the BARK Program, which administers four different tests to third- and fifth-grade students each year. "We've used the BARK program for the last couple of years," said Hilkert. "It prepares students for their Standard of Learning tests (SOL's) and gathers student information that helps teachers understand what students know and what they need to work on."
Greenbriar West's other technological advancement has been Blackboard.com, which helps teachers and parents communicate more effectively. "Parents can go online, pull up a teacher's name and find all of their children's homework assignments, long-term projects and classroom announcements." said Hilkert. "Teachers are really finding it to be successful."
PRIOR TO Blackboard.com, he said many grade reports and assignment sheets disappeared from mail boxes or simply never made it home to parents. "[Blackboard.com now] allows parents to stay on top," said Hilkert. "I would expect the new principal to expand on that, because there's so much to be done that way."
Hilkert is proud of the results and reputation Greenbriar West has achieved; and he attributes most of these successes to those around him.
"We have an excellent PTA and community, and our teachers are great," said Hilkert. "We've done a really good job with test scores. It's a very supportive community, and we work hard to give [everyone] the right resources."
Hilkert, the father of Tim Hilkert and Amy Goodman, plans to move with his wife, Marjori, within the next eight months. "We're in the process of having a house built in Williamsburg," said Hilkert. "It should be done around January or February."