Sam Wynkoop ready for new role at Sparrows Point
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 11:03

Replaces Rob Santacroce as school principal

by Bill Gates

    When the first day of classes begins at Sparrows Point High School, Sam Wynkoop will walk the halls and greet students much as he has since 2003.
    But there will be one significant difference: this time, he’ll be doing it as the guy occupying the (figurative) biggest office.
    Wynkoop is the new principal at Sparrows Point, replacing Robert Santacroce (who retired last spring to pursue other educational interests).
    The school’s former magnet coordinator, Wynkoop has been a Sparrows Point High assistant principal since 2006, so the transition should be a smooth one, for both him, the faculty and the students.
    “At first, you’d think the learning curve wouldn’t be as steep,” Wynkoop said. “But these are two completely different roles, and being principal poses its own challenge.

“I have a tremendous team. They’re student-centered and they care about our kids being successful once they’ve left our doors.”
    Several Sparrows Point students dropped in to visit Wynkoop over the summer, congratulating him on his promotion.
    “The big difference [in me] is the fact the students will see me wearing more suits,” he said.
    That, and the relationships will be slightly changed due to his now being the big cheese.
    “Relationships is one of the strengths of what we do, and I’m looking forward to forming relationships as a principal.
    “Students have had relationships with me as a teacher and as an assistant principal. We’ll have just as many good ones [as principal], I’m sure.”
    A graduate of Duquesne University, where he majored in secondary science and biology, Wynkoop came to Baltimore County from Pittsburgh in 1998 after attending a county job fair.
    He started at Lansdowne Middle School as the eighth-grade science teacher before coming to Sparrows Point in 2003 as the magnet coordinator and science department chairman.
    Wynkoop earned a master’s degree in instructional technology from Johns Hopkins University, and his administration certification from Goucher College.
    He’ll be replaced as assistant principal by Ron Kozich, who moves over from Dundalk Middle School.
    “He’s a great addition to the staff,” Wynkoop said of Kozich. “He fits right in, already working with folks  on the great things going on here.”
    As assistant principal, Wynkoop — as was Santacroce — has been a common sight at Sparrows Point athletic events.
    So he’ll have no trouble assuming Santacroce’s role as the Pointer’s head cheerleader.
    “It’s great to see kids, in and out of the classroom, on and off stage,” Wynkoop said. “All parts of the high school culture here are very important to me.”
    A former football player himself, Wynkoop also played basketball and ran track in his high school in Turkey City, Pa.
    When he retired, Santacroce was credited with engineering a turnaround  in student and faculty attitudes at Sparrows Point High.
    While he was an assistant for most of Santacroce’s time at the school, Wynkoop acknowledges the challenge of being “the guy who succeeds Brooks Robinson at third base.”
    “These are big shoes to fill,” he said. “I was lucky, Santacroce exposed me to a lot of the philosophical things he was working on.
    “I hope I can make a positive impact on this entire community like he did.”
    On the other hand, Wynkoop will be putting his own stamp on the position.
    “I did adjust the arrangement of my desk in the principal’s office,” he said. “Rob Santacroce stopped by to visit, said he liked the new office layout and wanted his job back.
    “What we have going on [at Sparrows Point] is working. We want to continue that, recognize the plateaus, and adjust accordingly.”