local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

ski and snow reports


Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Gary Carr...The Carr Man!

Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

For the week of Feb 5 - 12, 2002



There’s principal reason high school is improving

WRHS’s Hume seeks changes

Express Staff Writer

Remember the guys who were cool in high school and sat in the back of the classrooms in a kind of hip guy posse? Well, one of those guys is now running the circus. He’s Graham Hume, the new principal for the Wood River High School. He brings 33 years of experience to the job as well as a fresh and engaging outlook, with a little of the hip guy imp thrown in.

Graham Hume, principal of Wood River High School. Express photo by David N. Seelig

"It’s fun to tease and be teased," he said in reference to the hail-fellow relationship he has with his fellow teachers.

Hume, 55, had three choices last year. After 30 years in the Seattle School District he was moving into an uncertain limbo-like territory, where he could either retire, get a job out of education, or relocate. After years in the Pacific Northwest, his wife, Nancy, was urging him to opt for some sunshine.

Serendipitously, an old friend from Washington, John Evans, had recently taken the principal’s job at the Hailey Elementary School. The Humes came to Idaho for a visit, drove around the valley and liked it.

Meanwhile, Hume had decided he didn’t want to leave education, after all. He applied for jobs as high school principal in Las Vegas and Phoenix ¾ and then in Hailey, after hearing that the job was suddenly available from Evans.

Not only did the Humes take the job here, but they have set down permanent roots by building a home, which they’ve just moved into.

"We want to be part of the community," Hume said. His wife, who was a guidance counselor in the Seattle area, is working part time at the Nordic Center in Sun Valley.

"I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve done, okay?" he said about the move, "I’ve never been in a friendlier place."

Hume says, "okay?" often when talking. It’s a teacher thing, making sure that the listener is actually comprehending what he’s saying.

His teacher roots are ingrained, since they began taking shape on his 22nd birthday with his first teaching job at a junior high.

Eventually Hume became the principal at the Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett, Wash. It’s considered one of the top 100 technology high schools in the country.

One of the first things Hume did, after being offered the position at Wood River, was to take last year’s student leaders out to lunch at Shorty’s in Hailey. He asked them, "‘what is it that the school does for them other than graduation.’ They answered ‘nothing.’"

"That bothered me," he said. So, when he began his job last fall, he immediately gave them things they’d never had. These include a sense of "ownership by the kids," recognizing the seniors before the whole school at the first assembly, student leadership classes and letting students put on assemblies. "The kids here are really wonderful."

He is also working on several changes that could be implemented by next fall. One is a senior project, which would be researched and worked on the entire school year with mentors in the community.

"I’m going to take it to the board as a graduation requirement," he said.

Seniors involved in these projects learn how to learn, and provide a product. They present their projects at the end of school to a panel of business people, educators, politicians and locals. "It’s a marvelous experience."

He wants to make sure there is an emphasis on "writing across the curriculum," and that "high expectations are the norm."

In an early staff meeting his teachers showed him what their expectations were as well. Good news—"eighty percent said ‘We want to improve.’"

They want to work hard and be better, he said of his staff. The Academic Counsel, which is made up of teachers, staff and Hume, is also "working hard to examine new courses and curriculum. A number of things have happened because of them. And we have a great Parents Teachers Organization, too."

There are 739 students enrolled at Wood River High School this year. That number will swell to at least 1,000 by next year when the extra large class of 2005 arrives as freshman. By 2003 the school will have moved into the new high school that is being built. Hume has experience with building a new school in Washington, which was another reason the board ultimately offered him the job. Indeed, he can string together a quick list of school requirements, from janitor’s closets to which way doors open, when asked. "That’s the fun part."

The kids seem almost as fond of him as his staff does. And he’s very hands on. "I believe in site based decision making." The staff is learning his ways, he said. "You have to walk your talk."

Hume’s friends and associates in Washington told him he’d have it easy going to a smaller, rural school. He laughs that notion off. "It’s still the same 70-80 hours a week. Maybe I’m just stupid, but I can’t do it any easier."



The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.