Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wolfson Principal Retires Students, Friends Bid Educator Adieu on Last Day

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wolfson Principal Retires Students, Friends Bid Educator Adieu on Last Day

Article excerpt

In his final message yesterday morning to the students and staff

of Wolfson High School, Principal David White had to pause after

each sentence to collect himself.

He leaned against a waist-high file cabinet for support as he

read over the intercom the speech he prepared after rising at

3:15 a.m.

"Thanks to each of you for the privilege of being a part of

your life," he concluded. "I have oh so many beautiful memories.

God bless you."

When he turned around, two seniors surprised him with an

autographed, poster-size photo of the senior class. He was

speechless.

White, 53, served 19 years as principal of the Southside

school. Yesterday was his final day with students before they

went on spring break.

White is among 12 longtime Duval County principals and 48 other

administrators taking advantage of retirement incentives offered

by the school system. The retirements are expected to save the

system about $1 million this year.

Fred Christmann, Wolfson's vice principal, will serve as

principal until the end of the school year.

But David White will not be soon forgotten.

From establishing a magnet program, involving finance, business

and law, to offering students incentives for improving on state

test scores, White has long been seen as the backbone to

Wolfson's curriculum. About half of Wolfson's 1,880 students are

enrolled in the magnet program.

Whenever he left his office yesterday, someone would put

something on his desk for when he returned. Some left

testimonial letters of how White had changed their lives. Others

simply left retirement cards. And when he was in his office,

students would come in, often in groups, to shake his hand or

give him a hug.

"He's been more of a friend than a principal," said senior Bill

Roberts. "Whenever I needed a friend or someone to sit down and

talk to, I came to Mr. White. He always has time for you, and if

he isn't in his office, you can come back. He just downright

loves his students."

"Most principals are too busy to talk to students, but not Mr.

White," said sophomore Aaron Smith. …

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