As a new school year begins, new faces are accompanied by familiar ones, eager to make the next nine months enjoyable and memorable. This not only goes for students, but teachers as well. 2018 has brought forth nineteen new staff members to Oakland Mills High, most notably Dr. Jeffrey Fink, OM’s newest principal. After cycling through numerous principals within the past few years, including the sudden departure of Dr. Kathy Orlando in early 2018, Fink attempts to provide some sustainability at the position for the foreseeable future.
In addition to being a science teacher at Oakland Mills High School from 2003-2010 and coaching JV Girls Soccer during that time as well, Dr. Fink also has some experience working in a lab, as he briefly conducted cancer research before he decided it simply wasn’t for him.
“I couldn’t work in a lab…I needed interaction…” Fink explained, as he revealed he’s always had a passion for working with children and interacting with them on a daily basis. So after Dr. Orlando’s departure and following Mrs. Elaine Reid’s tenure as interim principal, Dr. Fink requested to return to Oakland Mills and serve as the Scorpions’ next principal. His request was granted.
When it comes to the culture at OM and how it compares with nearby schools in Howard County, it simply doesn’t, according to Dr. Fink. While other schools have to ensure and declare that they are the centers of their respective communities, this notion goes without saying in Oakland Mills, as the “tight-knit, accepting community” had a big influence in Dr. Fink’s request. In addition, a sense of community is something that Dr. Fink prioritizes, as he believes a sense of belonging is what drives students and teachers alike towards success. More specifically, one-on-one interaction is crucial in emphasizing and sustaining a feeling of community and acceptance, as a strong, personal connection to all students is what Dr. Fink believes makes students truly feel they belong and gives them a sense of pride in being a Scorpion.
Open-mindedness is important to Dr. Fink as well, as a trait with so much power and importance should be possessed by anyone who steps foot into the Oakland Mills community. Open-mindedness further emphasizes the feeling of acceptance and belonging among students, as it generates the sense that nobody’s perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes. Like everyone else, Dr. Fink has struggled in school at some point, and stressed that no matter how much you’re struggling in school, there is always a way out, but it’s up to you to find it. When he was in middle school, Dr. Fink struggled mightily with academics. “My grades were awful…teachers told me that I’d never amount to anything…” Dr. Fink stated, and that instead of listening to the negative things his teachers believed about him, he simply put his head down and began to work towards what he believed in, and eventually clawed his way to becoming Oakland Mills’ newest principal. “It’s okay to fail…” Dr. Fink reassures; everybody is going to fail at some point in their life, and the key to recover from failure is to seek out a trusted person to guide you towards success.
If you want to work towards something, the most important thing to possess is drive. The motivation to succeed will carry you farther than you might have imagined. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to fail. People will still support you even if you’re struggling. And if someone doesn’t believe that, Dr. Fink will always be someone you can turn to, as his open-door policy is in place to further emphasize the sense of community and belonging that is, was, and always will be Oakland Mills.