Photo by Charlotte Guy
Assistant principal turned Interim Principal, back to assistant principal… and now Interim Principal again. This isn’t Gregory Bargeman’s first rodeo. At the end of last school year, former Principal Kimberly Martin announced her departure from Wilson and her recommendation of Bargeman to be her temporary replacement.
The Beacon sat down with the interim principal to learn about his transition to leading a large student body amidst a global pandemic.
Q: What were some of the things that you had to do as principal that you had never done before?
A: The biggest thing was managing COVID. We thought we came up with a plan to ensure social distancing [would occur], but once school started we made adjustments. Sometimes we don’t realize the amount of students we’re going to be getting and usually on the first day of school, there’s a lot of students that show up.
Q: What were the biggest challenges with taking over the school as it was reopening?
A: The biggest challenge was social distancing, trying to get [students] three feet [apart] in the classrooms. Lunch was a big challenge. Class transitions were a big challenge.
Q: How is the [name change] process going and what part are you playing in it?
A: On October 6, DC Council is having a hearing about the name change, and hopefully after [that] they will officially change [the name]. I started putting together a celebration of August Wilson and I’m working with a tap dancer who used to be a student at Wilson.
Q: What are your main goals for this year?
A: One is to help us transition and to get back into the building. Number two is to become more digital, with our one-to-one [student devices]. Number three is helping students get back to where they were academically; that’s why we have intensive tutoring after school.
Q: Half of the school—two grades of students—haven’t really attended Wilson before. What are you doing to capitalize on that, in terms of reinventing school culture?
A: We call it the sort of “reimagining.” So even with things like homecoming week, we’re trying to reimagine how we can do it. And because [new students] don’t know about it, it’s easy to make the changes.
Q: How has the school changed since you were last Interim Principal, in 2015?
A: I would say COVID is the biggest part. A different team of people that I’m working with, none of the people that were originally here are here now. And there are more students here than we had when I was [Interim Principal] before—probably about 200 to 300 more students than we had previously.
Q: How do you feel like Wilson is different without Principal Martin?
A: Whenever you have a leader in the school, part of that leader stays here for a while. I think that Ms. Martin and her leadership is still here. I served under Ms. Martin, so part of some of the things I may do may be in alignment [with her leadership]. The leader and what they’ve done for the school never leaves, it’s always a part of [the school].
Q: Can you explain what being the Interim Principal means?
A: There’s a process that the LSAT does, they have to make a decision at the end of the year. Do they keep the [interim] principal? Do they interview principals and allow the [interim] principal to interview? Or, do they interview principals and don’t allow the [interim] principal to interview?
Q: If given the opportunity, would you like to become the permanent principal?
A: I would just say this—I love Wilson and I would be happy with any role that was given to me.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being principal?
A: My favorite thing is being around all the students. My least favorite is the amount of emails I get.
Q: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say as principal towards the student body?
A: Well, I’d like to say that I’ve been a part of Wilson for the past 20 years and I feel honored to lead Wilson. I love Wilson, I love the community, I love being a part of it. I want to make sure that Wilson is the place that I leave when I retire. •