ONLY ON 3: Teachers say pay, opportunity have them following former NHHS principal to Georgia

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Submitted: Sat, 05/17/2014 - 3:47am
Updated: Sat, 05/17/2014 - 11:26pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Former New Hanover High School principal Todd Finn is leading a new high school in Georgia, and his staff this fall will have many familiar faces.

Finn has hired six former colleagues currently teaching in New Hanover County and nearly a dozen more from North Carolina. So why are they following him to the Peach State?

Some critics say former Finn is poaching his old school, but teachers leaving North Carolina to join Finn in Georgia say that could not be farther from the truth.

“I’m not an egg, nor am I an elephant, so I can’t be poached,” New Hanover High School Science Department Chair Michelle Huffman said. “I am an adult, and I make adult decisions for my family.”

Huffman says the decision she and her husband made to follow Finn to Hampton High School in Henry County, GA, was an easy one.

“I would be making a huge mistake, and my husband would be making a huge mistake to walk away from this opportunity,” she said.

She’s one of 18 educators, including Finn, leaving the state for Hampton. Another, Jonathan Perry, who currently commutes from his home in Fayetteville to teach special ed at New Hanover High because he admired Finn after working with him before, says he does not want to leave. He says he’s being pushed out.

“My children were born in North Carolina. I really don’t want to leave North Carolina,” Perry said. “That is not what I wanted to do, but the opportunity was such that if I’m gonna do better for my family and as a man, I have to go.”

Perry says he’s an educator, and he can do simple math. Even a promotion in North Carolina would be a loss compared to teaching at Hampton.

“It’s almost a $17,000 pay increase for me to go from North Carolina to Georgia,” he said.

Money’s not the only reason. Some teachers we spoke with said they believe in Finn’s educational philosophy.

Finn says some members of the New Hanover County School Board did not like his style.

“Wilmington called me the polarizer, but down here, I’m the personalizer,” he said.

And personally he’d like to see more of his former colleagues follow his lead.

“I’ll tell you what: a year from now, I’ve got my eye on some science teachers, and I’ve got my eye on some math teachers that we really want to go up and see if we can bring them to Georgia as well,” Finn said.

Finn is also hiring two former New Hanover colleagues who now teach in Onslow County.

Before coming to Wilmington, Finn was principal at West Bladen High School, but he says he did not have any luck getting teachers to leave that school.

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45 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Teachers say pay, opportunity have them following former NHHS principal to Georgia"

2015 years 8 months ago

You nailed it. A former/retired teacher who looks back to the good old days and believes that education worked then so it should work now. What Steve Lee doesn’t get is that students today are not what they were five or even ten years ago. Students need to be taught by creative teachers who are supported by an administration who understand how students learn the most effectively. I can see Steve Lee know lecturing for half the class and then handing out worksheets to each student to work on in class. Mr. Finn understands that education has changed and is going to lead Hampton High School so that it is the beacon on the hill so to speak. If you polled every student Mr. Finn has taught when he was in the classroom or led a an administrator the results would be a landslide. Steve Lee I doubt many of your students remember who you are or what you even taught.

Old Guy
2015 years 8 months ago

Good riddance to bad rubbish! They are all a bunch of cry babies anyway. I say pay raise for ALL state employees not just the teachers. ALL state employees have not had a raise in seven years and should be paid better and also receive back pay and raised to where they should be. Teachers are no more important than anyone else in our community! Do your job and if you don’t like it I’m sure we can find someone else to do your job for you. ALL public servants is exactly what it means serve the public. Be good citizens, pay your taxes and be nice to one another.

2015 years 8 months ago

Sorry to bust your bubble; Mr. Lee taught me Advanced English in 1995 & I certainly remember him.

Fodd Tinn
2015 years 8 months ago

U ask me to follow
U are the decider
No opinion but one. Please
Tell me what to think, and
Understand — I am hopeless without U.

first-time guest
2015 years 8 months ago

Steve Lee: Since you were an English teacher allow me the pleasure of spelling something out for anybody who has the grotesque misfortune of reading your comments.

You. Never. Worked. For. Todd. Finn. Ever.

So the next time I need to undergo heart surgery from someone who’s not a cardiologist, I’ll be sure to give you a call. In the meantime, stick to things you know like running a fledgling coffee shop and being a cancerous malcontent.

Congratulations. You were a forgettable teacher then, and you are a monumental clown now.

“Steve Lee – Engaging in buffoonery with anything New Hanover High School related since 1996.”