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Principal Anne Brooks Retires

Park View High School says goodbye to the principal.

When Leanne Kidwell joined the Park View High School track team, her coach was Anne Brooks.

When Kidwell became a Park View ninth-grade, special-education teacher, Brooks was the boss again. This time, Brooks was principal.

"Under her as a student or as a teacher, she always expected you to do your best," Kidwell said Sunday.

Kidwell, who went by her maiden name, Perine, in high school, said she was not a track star, but Brooks gave her attention nonetheless. "She pushed us," Kidwell recalled. "The only thing that I would like to say, as a teacher, and I'm not sure I knew this as a student, Anne really, really cares about Park View."

BROOKS, PARK VIEW'S principal for the past six years, is retiring after 34 years in public education. Looking back, she cited the girls' track and field program as one of her key accomplishments. She introduced it to Loudoun County High School in Leesburg and Park View High School in Sterling. She also initiated Park View's girls' basketball program.

Ron Petrella, Heritage High School athletic director, said Brooks was his English teacher and later they served as assistant principals at Broad Run High School. Brooks, as a teacher, showed him respect, even though they were very different, he said.

"She is more of a serious, structured person, and I have more of an eclectic personality," he said.

That respect carried through when they worked as colleagues.

"It was a wonderful experience, being an administrator with her after having her as a teacher," he said. "I saw her dedication to the kids and the schools."

Brooks also was his wife Diane's track coach when she attended Park View. Diane Petrella now teaches marketing there.

BROOKS SAID teaching English, physical education, health and driver's education was a challenge. "Many days, I was superwoman, ducking into the closet in the back to change my clothes. I didn't believe in teaching English in my physical education outfit," she said.

Her work with the track and field team paid off. Relay teams and individuals won state titles. She gave up coaching when she became an administrator.

Brooks said the satisfaction she found in teaching is similar to what she feels as the school's principal. "One of the joys of teaching is having a plan and seeing it work," she said. "It's the same thing with launching a ship, launching the school. You try to steer your school in the direction you go. There's absolutely nothing better."

She cited another plus that comes with teaching. "There's never a dull moment," she said. "There is never a boring day."

Brooks remembered one day when she was teaching driver's education, and she saw another driver's education car ahead of her. "The boy in the back said, 'Oh no, what are they doing?'"

The student driver steered the oncoming car up onto a concrete island dividing the highway. The wheels fell off. "It was like a circus act. He just planted it right there," she said. "It was all we could do to stay on the road, with the wheels rolling everywhere."

Their amusement probably made it difficult too, given the depth of her laughter Friday, even after all these years.

She also recalled the senior pranks. The most clever joke was when the class hung boys boxers and girls bras up on the senior hallway. They wrote, "We're free and we're outta here. Nothing to hold us up or tie us down."

Brooks gave them high points for originality. "We laughed it up, because it was so clever."

She cited Park View's renovation as one of the greatest challenges in her career. Actually, she described it as "the two-and-a-half years of misery, the dust, the dirt and the noise."

But the overhaul was worth it, she said.

SCHOOL BOARD member J. Warren Geurin (Sterling) credited Brooks with helping to plan and carry out the project. "She helped to restore a substantial amount of pride in our school," he said.

Student achievement, Standards of Learning and SAT scores improved under Brooks' direction, he said. "To her credit, Miss Brooks fully embraced the process of school improvement."

Brooks cited the introduction of the Advanced Placement courses as another achievement. She helped start the program, which allows high-school students to take advanced courses and earn college credits.

She will be university bound after retirement. She plans to be an instructor of secondary-education courses at George Washington University, teaching students how to be teachers.

Brooks may have started her career 34 years ago, but she started preparing for the job when she was a child. "When we played school, I was the teacher," she said. "In scouting, I was the leader of the troop, teaching kids how to make knots and build campfires."

She said she has enjoyed working with the Sterling community. "It's truly supportive," she said. "The thing that sticks out for me with Park View is the spirit here. Here we are going into the 30th year of a community school. The spirit is still there and it's still vibrant."