Assistant Principal Eric Hutchinson announced today at 2:30 p.m. that he would resign, effective Dec. 22.
In an email to high school faculty and staff, Hutchinson wrote, “After much reflection, I have decided that it is time for a change in my career direction. This was truly not an easy decision, but I know in my heart that it is the right one for me and my family. I have had over 18 fulfilling years in Shaker as an English teacher at the Middle School and as an assistant principal at the High School.”
Efforts to reach Hutchinson were unsuccessful at the time of publication.
Shaker Heights City School District Director of Communications Peggy Caldwell said that Hutchinson “has made a great contribution to the school district and we wish the best for him. . . . He has had tremendous rapport with students. That really has been his hallmark. He has had an impact on hundreds of students.”
Of the four assistant principals, Hutchinson has prided himself on engaging students most directly. Hutchinson greeted students class by class in grade-level assemblies at the start of each school year, almost always speaking without a script and offering motivational analogies and anecdotes.
Guidance Department Chairwoman Eileen Blattner was shocked by the news. “Wow. Wow, wow,” she said while reading the email. “It’s such a loss for Shaker.” Blattner said that resignations effective midyear are unusual. “That’s not typical,” she said. “Usually people go at the end of the year.”
Students such as senior Shaunak Roy said Hutchinson stood out.
“Without a doubt, he was one of the most inspirational faculty members in the school,” Roy said. “For me, I’ve never had him as an AP, but just as a mentor or a figure he was an inspiration in all of my endeavors. He was just someone who encouraged me.”
Roy also praised Hutchinson’s engagement of the student body. “In all of our student meetings we have, he’s always present,” Roy said. “His presence reminds a lot of kids that, you know, he wants us to do well.”
Math teacher Chris McCandless said, “I was surprised and sad.”
Senior Tiara Freeman-Sargeant, a Student Council member and one of Hutchinson’s students, said his presence will be missed. “He really loves his students and he really cares about us,” she said. “He can motivate all students even if they have an F, so I don’t know who’ll be the administrator that everyone respects [when he’s gone].
“Council will miss him a lot because he was our voice, he advocated for us,” she said. “He was the one who really wanted to see what we could do.”
On a personal note, Freeman-Sargeant said, “I will miss him. I hope I still get a tennis ball.” Hutchinson, known for carrying a tennis ball wherever he goes, distributes tennis balls bearing congratulatory messages to outgoing seniors at the end of the year.
In concluding the email message, Hutchinson alluded to “be the best,” the catch phrase he uses with students. Hutchinson wrote, “I look forward to working with you and our students to make my last few months in Shaker…The Best.”