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 New KHS Principal Details his Goals

August 1, 2007 - His educational philosophy consists of instilling in all students the motivation to learn, to keep learning, and to prepare for the society of tomorrow.

But, who is Raymond R. Willsey, Knightstown High School’s new principal? And what does a day in the life of the new Knightstown High School principal consist of?

Willsey grew up in Knox County, near Vincennes. He graduated in 1973 from North Knox High school. Instead of motivation, expectation guided him through high school. "As far as motivation, I didn't need it." Willsey said. "It was never considered a choice to drop out. I'm not certain I ever heard the words ‘drop out’."

Willsey hopes to set expectations for the students at Knightstown High School by helping them focus on the core reason for attending school.

"It is like not seeing the forest for trees," Willsey explained. "I have done a lot of thinking about all the restrictions and guidelines, No Child Left Behind, etc. We are going to comply with all of that. But sometimes we tend to lose what it is all about. It's the diploma. This is the ticket to life. When the students first show up, I plan on actually showing them this simple document. We tend to be overly dramatic and lose sight of this simple path. My goal here is a 100 percent graduation rate. Seems like a lofty goal, but I don't want to see kids not accomplish this."

Before taking up jobs in school administration, Willsey attended Indiana State University where he received his masters degree in music education. Straight out of college he received a job as music director at Rosedale Elementary School and Rosedale High School, both near Terre Haute.

Like any college student who just graduated, Willsey was more than prepared for his class. "The first class (I taught) as a certified teacher was first graders,” he said. “This was a double class. So there were around 50 first graders. I had them seated on the floor and, after the good morning song, I introduced myself. ‘I am Mr. Willsey,’ I said in rhythm, wanting them to echo me. They butchered my name. So I went to the chalkboard and in big letters wrote ‘Mr. Willsey.’ Then, I pointed to the board and asked them to read it. One of the first grade teachers was in the back of the room snickering. She said, ‘These are first graders. They don't know how to read."

"Whenever I think I know everything, I look back at this story and remind myself that being prepared doesn't mean you won't look over common sense."

Willsey was first introduced to the musical world in the fifth grade. "First time I picked up the trombone I had a blast; it felt right" Willsey said. "I was not a natural player so I had to work my little tail off."

He was inspired to become a band teacher through being a band student himself. "I had two band teachers (throughout elementary and high school). They both had their strengths, but I felt something was missing. I had an idea of what I could do to make band teaching better. I think as a band teacher I filled in that missing spot."

Today Willsey still enjoys playing the trombone and has not lost sight of his musical background. While teaching Willsey organized a good-sized band of some of his band directors and friends. Initially the band was brought together to support band booster fundraisers, but soon enough the band was playing other gigs. The band still plays, I actually got to play with them this summer. It was good to see the guys again."

After 20 years of teaching music at three different schools, Willsey decided he needed a change in pace, and went back to college to become certified for education administration. He then found himself principal of Union Junior-Senior High School for three years. His next and most recent position was the assistant principal at Attica Junior-Senior High School.

"I have appreciated the fact that every place I have worked as a teacher or an administrator people have basically felt a since of trust as hiring me. I take that feeling to heart," he said. "The parents trust me with their most prized possessions, their children. That’s quite a responsibility, which is not taken lightly."

As a father of three, Willsey tries to treat every student as if they were his own. "There are basic qualities that most all parents try to instill in their children" Willsey said. "I teach the students the values of honesty, trust and respect."

Moreover, he seems to understand the daily hustle and bustle of parenting. "Oh, I definitely plan on attending extracurricular activities,” he said. “My children have been in cheerleading, baseball, honor society and band. I made every effort to attend as many as possible, not only as an administrator, but also as a teacher and a parent."

"I appreciate everything that has happened so far here at Knightstwon" Willsey said. "I look forward to meeting the most important people - the students."

With his love for deer hunting and fishing, Willsey describes himself as a “country kid."



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