B y Dan King

Whitehall Elementary School Principal Rich Trowbridge is building a rapport with students that helps them educationally and emotionally.

A number of parents have come forward to say that Trowbridge has built great relationships with their children, but one story jumps out above the rest – that of Samuel Chaplin.

Samuel’s mother Suzi, who was recently diagnosed with MS, sent the Times an email that said Trowbridge has become “buddy-buddy” with Samuel during a rough time.

“What a great guy the new Whitehall Elementary principal is,” wrote Suzi Chaplin, on Facebook. “He noticed that Samuel has been having a rough couple of weeks in school (maybe due to all my health issues its unclear) Samuel loves to dress up and do his hair… so Mr. Trowbridge said to him we need to have a competition to see who the best dresser is and all the teachers will have to vote and whoever wins that person will have to buy the other person lunch.”

Trowbridge said he did it because “Sam is a great kid like so many other kids here at Whitehall. The last couple weeks he had lost some of his smile. Sometimes life can be tough. He came to school one day dressed up so we had a little fun with it. We turned it into a little competition. Loser buys lunch.”

And based on the results thus far, it looks like Trowbridge will have to buy Chaplin lunch.

Suzi Chaplin added on her Facebook post: “Well Mr. Trowbridge has 2 votes and Samuel says Mrs. Barber took 2 hrs to stamp all Sam’s votes … LOL He might be exaggerating a little.”
Trowbridge said: “Right now I have one vote and that’s me voting for myself. Looks like I will be buying lunch next week.”

According to both Trowbridge and Chaplin, the agreement has paid off.

“Sam has come to school all dressed up this week and more importantly has had a smile on his face all week,” Trowbridge said. “As educators we are constantly trying to make our students’ days better. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Just glad to see Sam smiling.”

Trowbridge isn’t the only one who has been helpful to Chaplin.

Suzi Chaplin added in her email: “Samuel’s teacher Mr. (Mike) Thornton has also been a big advocate with helping Samuel get back on track with constant communication with Dave and myself on his progress and we think this budding relationship is a positive step not only for our youngest and our middle son but for many of the children in the Whitehall Elementary School and we are very encouraged about the rest of the school years thanks to his hard work.”

Trowbridge said he has felt right at home since coming to Whitehall.

“It has been easy to fit in here at Whitehall,” he said. “The staff, students and parents have made me feel very welcomed here. There are a lot of great people in Whitehall who love their children. The teachers and people at school are top notch. And the kids, that’s the best part – I truly enjoy seeing them get off the bus in the morning.”

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