by Terry Rogers
Gary Zoll, the new principal at Milford Central Academy, says that while growing up in Pennsylvania, he loved visiting Delaware and Maryland as a child. When he graduated from Millersville University with a degree in elementary education with a reading background, he knew he wanted to move, but wanted to remain a short drive from family. He applied for several teaching positions in Delaware and Maryland before being offered a position at Seaford Middle School.
“I taught at the middle school for 15 years before becoming an associate principal at Seaford Middle School,” Zoll said. “I am married to a Milford alumnus, Tiffany, and we have 5 children, ranging in age from 2 to 13. I applied for the position in Milford this year because I have some family, in-laws, who live and work in the area. I had also heard great things about the community from others. Throughout my time in education, I was also able to work with and hear many great things about the town and the schools, so I thought it was the perfect spot to begin as a new principal.”
Zoll, who also holds a Master of Arts in Administration from the University of Phoenix, originally began college with the goal of becoming a computer science major. About a month before starting at Millersville, he decided to switch his major “for no really good reason.” He was able to shadow classes as a freshman and was hooked from that point on. He loves working with students and seeing what develops in a classroom.
For ten years, Zoll taught social studies and math at the middle school level. This led him to a passion for United States history which is a subject he has always wanted to teach. In 2010, he accepted a position at the Delaware New Tech Academy at Seaford High School, a project-based learning academy, and taught there for five years working with mostly juniors and seniors. After serving on leadership teams and watching administrators come and go in Seaford over the last few years he was in a classroom, Zoll decided to begin courses that would lead to his master’s degree in order to move to the administrative side of education.
“I was selected as the Seaford School District Teacher of the Year in 2008,” Zoll said when asked what the highlights of his teaching career were. “I coached football, basketball and baseball at the middle and high school level. My biggest honor was being selected to give the keynote address at the 2014 commencement ceremony.”
When asked about the challenges he faced as a teacher, Zoll commented that his five-year role as union president, although very rewarding, was also challenging as he had to learn to deal with adversity as well as how to collaborate and truly work together with many different personalities who sometimes have competing interests.
“However, when I look back on it now, I am glad that I was able to be in that role as it taught me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence in my role as an administrator,” Zoll said.
Zoll says that he has two main goals as principal of the Milford Central Academy. He wants to be the best he can be everyday and he hopes to be a community citizen, goals he calls his core beliefs.
“So often, we get dragged down by the fact that we are okay with good,” Zoll said. “In other words, if we are good at something, we don’t work to become the best. Everyday, I want all of us, including students, teachers, administration, office staff, cafeteria workers, custodians and paraprofessionals, to strive and work towards the best. We also cannot be successful without the town and surrounding areas of Milford and Milford cannot be successful without our success. Let’s strive to give back to the community in many ways, but also ask for community support in our schools to change and become the best middle school in Delaware and beyond.”