Robin Anthony Toogood II was an admired educator, the kind of principal who inspires loyalty among other teachers for his compassion and positive attitude. To his students, he was a role model who commanded respect, a leader who handled discipline infractions with a gentle hand.
But according to local schools officials, Toogood harbored a secret throughout his 15-year career in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia schools: Although he claimed to be highly educated — saying he had a doctorate — in reality he was a college dropout.
Former colleagues said they were surprised that Toogood appears to have repeatedly landed teaching and administrative jobs while providing fake or embellished credentials, as Virginia education officials have alleged. Those who worked with him said Toogood was known for his gregarious charm, warm smile and innate leadership qualities.
“He would have been the last person you would have ever expected to lie,” said Katie Holland, a former substitute teacher at St. Michael the Archangel, a Catholic elementary school in Silver Spring where Toogood worked as an assistant principal during the 2007-2008 school year.
You know, this sort of thing probably goes on more frequently than we know about. Granted, it takes real cajones to pull off an educational heist such as this one but there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Listen to how Mr. Toogood is described. He sounds like the ideal principal, doesn’t he?
The teachers like him, the kids like him, and he has charm and innate leadership qualities. How many of us can think of a principal that really fill the bill such as Mr. Toogood? Damn few!
I am ready to suggest that principals save themselves a bunch of time and money and just go to motivational classes. They need to learn to get along with adults rather than bully them. They need to make children want to please. They don’t need to be their buddy but they do need to be a trusted adult who at least knows a few of the kids’ names. This new breed of principal also needs to be able to relate to parents. This Principal needs to defend his or her staff but assure parents that real problems are being handled. No wink wink nudge nudge. Seriously folks. Think of one good reason why Mr. Principal needs to have an MA or a PhD in some subject they aren’t going to teach or something hokie like Principles of Education.
Now all principals need to know school law, how to manage money, and the basics. but let’s not do overkill. Teach principals exactly what they need to know for the state and locality where they were hired. That should do the trick.
Cut the City of Manassas some slack. They pretty much do what everyone else does–rely on the credential verification from the Virginia State Board of Education. Those are the cats who do the licensure. Localities usually do criminal background checks but they don’t check into all the college credentials as a rule, or at least they didn’t used to do so.
Most of the principals I have known in my life wanted to make more money. Often they were coaches. Very few of the hard core academic teachers wanted to go up that ladder of success. I am still thinking that other than some contrived, artificial reasons, Mr. Toogood probably was one best principals in the entire area. Prove me wrong.