When You Listen to His Rap Music, You'll Hear the Principal of the Thing

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

If you grew up in the South Bronx in the 1970s and 1980s, there seemed to be only two legitimate outlets for becoming a successful adult, Saryn L. Hatcher remembers:

Either you were going to become a professional athlete or you were going to become a rap star.

Hatcher decided to be a rap star.

His father had other ideas. He insisted that his son join the Navy.

After four years of service, much of it on the guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay, which was then homeported at Mayport Naval Station, Hatcher went to college.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, he earned a bachelor's degree in art history.

Having enjoyed Jacksonville, he moved back here. He worked briefly as a graphic artist, then, in 1995, became an art teacher at Paxon School for Advanced Studies.

At the urging of Paxon's principal, Jim Williams, Hatcher pursued advanced degrees during his spare time and earned a master's degree and a doctorate from Nova University, with the goal of becoming a principal himself.

His first job as a principal was at Highlands Middle School. For the last four years, he's been principal of Northwestern Middle School.

For Hatcher, now 39, life has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. He's married to a fellow principal, Michele Floyd-Hatcher of West Jacksonville Elementary School, and they have two children: Regan, 5, and Saryn II, 2.

But Hatcher never forgot his long ago dream of rap stardom. Or, rather, he never forgot the rap song he recorded 20 years ago, while in the Navy.

When Hatcher was a teenager, his father, William, who grew up in Selma, Ala., and has a political science degree, spent a lot of time teaching black history to his children.

"He didn't think we understood how privileged we were," Hatcher said. …