Aviano High School’s Doug McEnery, named DODDS-Europe high school principal of the year, makes a point while teaching a class this week.

Aviano High School’s Doug McEnery, named DODDS-Europe high school principal of the year, makes a point while teaching a class this week. (Kent Harris / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Doug McEnery flashes a smile when asked about what appears to be a trend at Aviano High School.

Susan Page, the school’s assistant principal, was named the best at her job for the entire Department of Defense Education Activity last year. Now McEnery has been named the top high school principal for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.

“It’s the water,” said the 54-year-old, whose been working in the military schools system for almost 25 years.

“I think we have a great school,” McEnery said. “I’ve got great teachers. They really work well together. I think that’s one of the reasons for success at our school.”

McEnery, who arrived in Aviano in 1999 after almost two decades at schools in Germany and Japan, is one of those teachers himself. He co-teaches a college prep class with Alan Scharff.

McEnery says that being a principal of a small school — Aviano’s official enrollment is 285 — allows him to spend some time in the classroom. That, in turn, might help him relate better to his teachers.

“We regularly meet to see how we can do a better job,” he said. “That includes me. And I think that efforts pays off.”

Page, who also credited her award to the staff and students at the school, said McEnery has been a good mentor.

“I learn something from him all the time,” she said. “One of his strengths is he’s a really good listener.”

McEnery started honing that skill early on in his DODDS career. He earned a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Kansas while working at his first teaching job in Oskaloosa, Kan.

McEnery came to the American school at Hahn Air Base in Germany in 1980 as a counselor, holding that position for eight years before becoming the school’s assistant principal. He then went to Berlin as assistant principal and helped close that school. McEnery spent two years at Vilseck before getting his first principal’s job at Yokota Air Base in Japan. That school had more than 700 students, so coming to Aviano was an adjustment.

“I’m very happy here,” he said. “I get to know all the kids by name, and they know me by name, because the numbers are smaller.”

Students’ achievement test scores at Aviano also generally are above school goals, he said, adding that those results and high marks from inspections probably helped him receive the award.

He attributes those successes to the students and staff.

“I’m lucky enough to get credit for it,” McEnery said.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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