Glick announces retirement after 31 years at HCPS


Cara Walton

Assistant principal Joe Glick (left) talks to science teacher Gehrie Blair. “I know I’m going to miss working with incredible teachers,” Glick said.

After 31 years in the Harrisonburg City School system, with 13 of those spent being a biology and chemistry teacher at HHS and 18 of those spent as an administrator, assistant principal Joe Glick has made the decision to retire.

Throughout his fruitful career, Glick started many programs, garnered many awards for his achievements and hard work and helped open Skyline Middle School as their first principal. However, Glick didn’t always know that he wanted to become a teacher or even an administrator.

“I started at University of Richmond with the hope of playing baseball. I was a chemistry major. I transferred to Virginia Tech because they had a Forestry and Wildlife biology program, [which I] graduated with degrees in. I became a teacher once I realized I really didn’t like what I was doing with Forestry and Biology, so I went back to school and got my [teacher’s] certification to teach biology and chemistry,” Glick said. “I felt it was really important for me to get a Master’s degree and at the time I would’ve had to quit teaching to get a Master’s in Biology, so the closest Master’s degree I could get was in Administration and Supervision because I could do it at night. I went into the program without any plans on really becoming an administrator. I really wanted to become a better teacher and understand the education system. I just wanted to understand that piece because I felt it would make me a much better teacher. Then some things fell into place and I was offered a job at Thomas Harrison Middle School as an assistant principal. I’ve been an administrator now for 18 years.”

A fond memory for Glick was getting the opportunity to create a culture at Skyline Middle School as its first principal. He connects this experience to the one that will occur when the district’s second high school is opened in a few years. 

“My first principal gig was to open up a brand new school, so I was the first principal at Skyline [Middle School]. I did that for seven years. Being able to create your own school and create culture and process and procedures. It’s a once in a lifetime procedure. That’s one of the things I’m most fond of and most proud of. I think I’m probably proud of myself that I’ve not given up on kids. I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been relatable and helpful to students that don’t like school, that don’t like teachers and principals. [I’m proud that] I’ve worked well with all students, but especially students with needs,” Glick said. “[Opening HHS2 is] identical [to opening Skyline], I mean you’re creating a school where there wasn’t a school. The task for the administration and the staff and the students is to create your culture and to create your routines. It’s a huge process because you have to pay close attention to every single detail because you’re not inheriting a culture, you’re creating a new [one].”

In the classroom, Glick was able to help create a coast to coast program with other teachers and earned a fellowship to study at Princeton University about how to teach evolution. Through these experiences, he was able to bring more real life research experiences to students.

“I have so many fond memories in the classroom, and I really loved being in the classroom. Probably the two most significant things that jump out in my mind are working with Myron Blosser and Andy Jackson in doing the first coast to coast program where we took students in 1998 cross-country doing research for five weeks. That was a very transformative moment for me, the other teachers and the students in getting the process of learning outside of the classroom, making it practical [and] relevant to the lives of the kids and issues in the country. [It was] really phenomenal,” Glick said. “Another really significant time for me was [that] I was fortunate to get a Woodrow Wilson fellowship to study teaching evolution on the secondary level. I spent two months at Princeton University studying evolution and how to teach evolution. Those were probably the two most memorable experiences that I had as a teacher.”

Another program Glick was instrumental in creating was the Summit Academy at Harrisonburg High School. Although the program was recently dismantled in favor of a program to help seniors graduate, Glick hopes Summit Academy will return because of its numerous benefits for the students in it.

“I hope [Summit Academy returns]. I feel really strongly from my experience that students that tend to struggle through middle school and high school are students that don’t have a really strong community within the school. The earlier that you can get students to be a part of something special and unique to them, [the better]. That helps with their success down the road. I really hope that Summit comes back in some entity to help ninth grade students that need a connection,” Glick said.

Infamous duties of administrators are being called in to control students or work with specific students that are causing problems in the school building. Glick, however, doesn’t find these instances to be bad necessarily because he learned something after each one. 

“I have a really difficult time thinking of the bad experiences because every experience you have, good or bad, makes you wiser and makes you into a better teacher and administrator. I think probably the most frustrating things are when your vision of how something is supposed to work doesn’t work,” Glick said. “For me there were days when I left the classroom or left being a principal frustrated, but it has never changed my eagerness to come back the next day and make the necessary changes to make things better. I really don’t have any vivid memories that stand out of things that discouraged me or made me not want to be a teacher or principal.”

During his retirement, Glick will miss the relationships he has built in the school the most, whether it was interacting with teachers, staff or students of all ages.

“I’ve always been a relationship kind of person. I’m kind of like an extroverted introvert, so I do like my solitude. I think I’m going to miss the relationships I’ve built. I know I’m going to miss working with incredible teachers and incredible administrators. I’m going to miss the amount of laughter, real genuine laughter I have during the day. [Also] working with middle schools and working with high schools and working with kids and things like that. I think I’ll also miss the idea that I’m helping students navigate through difficult times,” Glick said.

His decision to retire came after reassessing what his priorities in life were at the moment. For now, he will be spending his retirement with his family, taking care of them at a time when they need it the most.

“The decision for me to retire really centered on a change in my priorities. For the last 40 years, I’ve spent one day a week working with my father outside. He’s taught me so many wonderful things, and he’s soon to be 93 years old. He is still on his same routine of working six days a week on some land that the family owns. It’s given him purpose, it’s given him life and strength and kept his mind sharp and brought him a tremendous amount of joy. It’s kept him alive, but I need to be with him now, for him to be safe and to stay on his routine,” Glick said. “The other significant person in my life is my only brother. It’s really important for me that over these next two or three years I’m with my brother and with my father. I love my job, I love what I do, but being with them right now and being a caregiver to them, and to be a brother and a son to them is the most important thing to me. I won’t be able to get that time back. I can always come back to work somewhere, but I can’t get my brother or my father back. That’s the reason why I made this decision.”


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