Met with eager grins and cheers, Hamish stood in front of students as they fueled up for another day of discovery at Prince William last month. Encouraging the group to pause and look around, he asked each student to recognize the opportunity that was in front of them and to take advantage of every moment.
Hamish’s visit was illustrative of the transformation he has led at the school. In 2017, Fred Lynn was struggling. At the time, the associate superintendent of Prince William County middle schools told the Washington Post that the school was up against the “greatest challenges” of any in the district. Unable to meet Virginia state standards for English and science curriculum, Fred Lynn lost its accreditation.
To say that things began to turn around when Hamish, a New Zealand native, stepped in as principal in the fall of 2017 would be an understatement. Less than a year after taking over, Hamish led the school back to accreditation. Enrollment began to rise at such a rate that classroom trailers were brought in and more teachers were hired.
“Hamish knows how to build relationships and foster trust,” said eighth grade science teacher Danvy Chung while out on the trail with Fred Lynn students during their NatureBridge program. “He sees the value in sometimes having to pause a school lesson to focus on crucial social and life lessons. He’s known for being countercultural, pushing the norms and making school more fun.”