New ponderosa principal always strives 
for the best

Ponderosa High School’s new principal doesn’t accept mediocre.

In fact, David Haggerty continually talks about being the best. It’s been a theme that has been a part of his life since his own high school years in New York, where the school’s motto was “always beat the best to be the best.”

As he leads Douglas County’s smallest comprehensive high school with 1,250 students, he says encouraging students to be the best is what he does.

Take the football team. The players can talk about conference championships at their 20 year reunion, he says, but if you win a state championship, you talk about that for a lifetime, even when you’re not at your 20-year reunion.

“It’s all about expectations. Are we going for a small expectation” or striving to be the best? he asks.

Haggerty was a teacher, assistant principal and principal during his 17 years as an educator in North Carolina before coming to Ponderosa, where he began work on July 6. Since he has served in leadership roles before, he says he knows not to make any huge changes until he’s gotten a good feel for the school and what is needed.

“I’ve told people this is not my first rodeo,” he says. “I’ve always learned that you come in and you get a feel for what’s going on. You don’t want to make too many major changes.” However, one of his early goals is to “upgrade and update our theater, facility-wise. That is one of the things that we’re working on with parents.”

The transition to Ponderosa has been fairly smooth.

“Ponderosa has a lot of traditions. The school I was at was 100 years old, so I knew what I was dealing with when it came to tradition and a great school and community,” he says.

“It was similar to what I was in already, especially academically. I felt very comfortable at Ponderosa.”

He also brings an energetic, compromising leadership style as he works to prepare students for life beyond high school.

“I’m very involved,” he says. “I’m a very open person. Parents have found out that they can see me any time they’d like. I’m not a big appointment person. Parents have tested that, and it’s worked out well.

We’re going to do what’s best for kids, what’s best for students,” he says. “I’m a compromiser and willing to work on things. And make things work. If it can’t work, we’ll find some other way to make it work the right way. “

But, of course, the ultimate goal for the near future and five years out is to be the best.

“My goal is always to be the best at everything that we are, so my goal always in five years is to be the top academically, athletically, activity-wise,” he says, noting that he also wants to be able “to share how we do things because we want everyone to be the best. It’s always a goal – to be the best.”