Meet the new principal: Mr. Antonio Hall

Due to Dr. Gregg Robertson’s retirement, the school is welcoming a new principal this year. Mr. Antonio Hall has 20 years of teaching experience, getting his Master of Arts Degree in Educational Supervision and Administration. He previously worked as an assistant principal at the school, and before that was an English teacher at Gunston Middle School. 

While he has spent much of his professional life in Arlington, he grew up on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, in what he considered a rough neighborhood. 

“There was sometimes some trouble walking to and from school, so I had to really be aware of my surroundings as a young person,” Mr. Hall said. “School was a safe place for me. It was really a place where I felt safe and my friends and I connected.” 

Due to his background, he felt that education was his calling from a very young age. He wanted to give the same protected environment that he got–where students could just learn and not have to worry about anything else–to others. Therefore, one of his primary objectives is to create a strong sense of community within the school.

“I was once in your shoes, so I think it’s important for teachers, assistant principals and principals to get to know our students as people: what they like, what they dislike and what their interests are,” Mr. Hall said. “For example, I’m a big sneakers guy. I connect with kids a lot based on sneakers.” 

Mr. Hall notes there is always room for improvement within the school. One thing that is especially important to him is that the school becomes a role model in educating about racism and social justice. 

“We need to make sure that we are standing up for each other in this building,” Mr. Hall said. “When you come to Washington-Liberty or you’re a member of the Washington-Liberty family, you’re a part of a school culture and a movement that supports social and racial justice and advocacy for everybody.” 

In terms of his leadership style, Mr. Hall said he understands the importance of listening to what everyone in the community has to say, and is very open to constructive criticism at all times.

“I have to be able to listen, to make sure that people feel valued and to be vulnerable in this process because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know,” Mr. Hall said. “It’s important that you involve everyone in the process because it’s genuine, it’s empathetic and it demonstrates leadership when you can include voices other than your own.”

Due to the pandemic, it will be especially difficult for Mr. Hall to connect with the students and teachers; it is hard to keep in close communication with so many people when you are physically separated from them. That is why he intends to do all he can to keep in touch this first year at the job, but he understands if some people will not be able to communicate as much as he desires.

“We know that there are some students in Arlington Public Schools who lost family members [due to] the coronavirus, or they are experiencing some financial difficulty,” Mr. Hall said. “When you’re experiencing all those things, sometimes an assignment for chemistry class takes a back seat to real life things. [Once] we know you’re safe, you’re cared for, you’re supported and health-wise you’re well, then let’s talk about algebra and the quadratic equation and how we can support you in your classes, or in the clubs or activities you’re in.”

However, despite all of these recent challenges, he is excited about his new role in the school and is grateful that he is finally where he really wants to be. 

“You know how some people progress in their careers and they go to central office or they want to go be a superintendent somewhere else?” Mr. Hall said. “Well, right now, I can’t think of anywhere else that I’d rather be than in a school working with teachers and students.”