Everybody’s PrinciPAL: BHS’s Own Mr. Spence

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Lanna Delaney, Op-ed Editor

When you walk into this room you might be intimidated by what it represents, but as you look around you start to notice the pictures of his family and staff on the wall. In addition, you notice drawings from his kids and papers on the desk. This room is the Principal’s office. Mr. Spence has worked here since 1994 where he started as a Social Studies teacher. He and his wife are raising four children ranging from a senior in high school to a fifth grader. Mr.Spence enjoys being a principal, it keeps him on his “toes because the job requires a great deal of multitasking.” “A large part of a principal’s role is to help create opportunities and experiences for students to grow academically and socially.” His favorite U.S. History topic/person is Abraham Lincoln.

Mr.Spence acknowledges that when growing up he did not know what he wanted his occupation to be or what college to go to. He went to college not knowing exactly what he wanted to be: “Many kids feel that way and at first, I thought i was going to be an attorney but my brother was in law school and didn’t like it.” Mr. Spence grew up working at his father’s restaurant where he began at 8 years old. He’d make $1.50/hour and spent it all at the local arcade playing Asteroids and Spy Hunter. As he got older he worked as a cook, waiter, and bartender. He decided to give teaching a try because his mother was a teacher and thought “why not give it a try. She liked it so maybe I will as well.” He went to Hamilton college a small liberal arts school located about 5 hours away in upstate New York. It is one of the top 50 most beautiful campuses in America. Mr. Spence found out about the college through his brother who was a senior at the time there. In order to graduate and attain a bachelors of arts in history, Mr. Spence had to write a 60 page thesis paper and defend it before the faculty.

One day in 1994, the assistant principal at Bethpage high school called Mr.Spence and told him about an opening in social studies. He went in for the interview, got the job and began to teach. “As a teacher I enjoyed entertaining the class while getting the information across to the students. Seeing students piece together their own understanding of history was very rewarding.”

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, Mr. Spence always wanted to be a quarterback or hockey player. His favorite athletes were Billy Smith, the goaltender of the New York Islanders and Mike Bossy, a hall of fame right winger on the Islanders. Growing up his role model was his mother. His mother always told him to “have patience, and in teaching, you really do need to have patience.”

Choosing Mr.Spence came from seeing his 2 truths and 1 lie game. Since we see him all the time in school but don’t really know him, creating this article would hope to give students a closer look at the man behind the principal title.

He hopes that “when students, staff, and parents walk into Bethpage High School they feel comfortable knowing that this school is a safe, caring and welcoming environment.”