Principals Eagle and Kraft calling it a career

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
Salisbury High School Principal Dr. Windsor Eagle and Southeast Middle Principal Skip Kraft have different plans for the free time they’ll have on their hands at the end of June.
Both men are retiring from the Rowan-Salisbury School System after more than three decades of service.
Eagle’s plan involves simply not having a plan.
“I’ll do whatever,” he said. “I’m undecided.”
Kraft plans to take a month off before diving back into work with both Rowan and Cabarrus Vocational Opportunities, nonprofit agencies that work to provide vocation training and life skills to adults with disabilities.
“I’m kind of coming full circle,” Kraft said. “I started with special education and I’m heading back in that direction.”
For Eagle, ‘it’s time’
Eagle’s held the top spot at Salisbury High School since July 1980, months after his brother tipped him off about the position.
At the time, Eagle had been working as the principal of New Kent High School near Richmond, Va., for about nine years.
“My mother was aging, and I was making more trips back home to this area,” said Eagle, a Spencer native and North Rowan graduate. “I applied for it out of the blue, never thinking about how we would have to sell our house and move, but lo and behold when the job was offered it was very difficult to turn down.”
After 44 years in education and two years in the military, Eagle said “it’s time” to retire.
“I’m going to miss the teachers, the students, the parents; everybody has certainly been supportive of me throughout the years, and we’ve had a lot of success,” he said.
Eagle said it’s the challenges that kept him at Salisbury High during his 32-year tenure.
“There was always something new,” he said. “It wasn’t the same job year to year. … There were a lot of new things that have come along and challenged my imagination and challenged me to do something.”
Those challenges included the transition from a school with only 10th through 12th graders to include freshmen, the merger of the city and county school systems, the addition of new technology and state-mandated accountability testing.
Eagle is currently tackling a different kind of challenge, one presented by students.
“The entitlement attitude of a lot of our students, they feel like they are entitled to a diploma without putting forth the effort to earn one,” he said. “We’ve always had a little bit of apathy, but we haven’t had it the way we’re seeing it now.”
And education is different. Eagle said the focus on graduation rates can make it more difficult to make sure students get the proper education.
“If we get kids out in five years and they are better prepared for the world and have a better education under their belt, to me that’s better than getting them through in four years not prepared.”
Eagle, who was named the Northwest Region Principal of the Year in 2005, said he might have some withdrawal when school starts without him in August.
“It’s just been enjoyable to be here,” he said.
Career change for Kraft
Kraft said he views his decision to leave Southeast as a career change rather than a retirement.
“I’m too young to retire. I’ve got a lot of work in front of me,” he said.
Kraft began his education career as a special education teacher and coach at West Rowan High, roles he filled for more than two decades.
He became the assistant principal at Southeast in 2004 before taking over the top spot in 2007.
After a 30-year career, he’s ready to step aside.
“I can retire, so I’m going to because I think people lose their edge when they know they can walk out the door. I don’t want that.”
Kraft said he loves his job at Southeast and leaving will be bittersweet.
“I’ve never pulled into the parking lot wishing I was somewhere else,” he said. “It’s only bittersweet because I will miss the students; it always has been and always will be about the students.”
As education continues to change, Kraft said he’s interested to see what’s coming next.
“I know our teachers are working harder than they ever have,” he said. “Our students are wired differently today than in years past; they want it now, quick.
“I think the biggest changes in education have happened in the past 10 years, so hold on and buckle up for the next 10.”
Kraft said he’s hoping to get back into coaching baseball after things settle down with his new job.
“That is my love and passion in addition to teaching,” he said. “Maybe some program will let me jump back in.”
Kraft’s glad the route to Rowan Vocational Opportunities is near Southeast Middle.
“My car just automatically drives there every day,” he said. “I’ve worked 12-hour days basically for the past 30 years and I’ve loved every minute of it.”