By Leaana Khan, Kevin Barry, Lydia Jensen, and Bella Kaguyutan
Bear Press Editorial Board
With the beginning of the new school year, Hammond welcomed many staff members, including the return of Ms. Raymona Reid. After being away for three years, she is returning to Hammond not only as a staff member, but as the new principal. Prior to her absence from Hammond, Ms. Reid was a physical education teacher and the Girls Basketball Coach for eighteen years. Needless to say, the Hammond Community is very excited to welcome her back.
In regard to her thoughts and feelings on returning to Hammond Ms. Reid said, “I am ecstatic. This is home for me. Being here eighteen years, I literally cried for two weeks when I had to leave, so coming back here is definitely a dream come true. So, I am excited, and to come back to a new building like this is absolutely amazing. It’s like the cherry on top.”
Prior to her absence from Hammond, Ms. Reid held a special bond with the entire Hammond Community; staff and students alike. After returning to Hammond she expected a change in this bond but rather feels like it was somewhat of a reunion, “it’s kind of like … reunion. Like, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was gonna be, to kind of re-present myself as a leader … knowing who I was and who I am for Hammond … has been very helpful. So it’s actually made the transition really easy, so that was surprising for me but it’s absolutely great.” She elaborated further on this bond, specifically with staff saying it was an emotional return. As she had previously worked with many members of the current staff prior to her work at Oakland Mills.
Ms. Reid took her leave from Hammond prior to the 2019-2020 school year and felt that she never got a proper goodbye saying, “I have this absolutely special place for Hammond in my heart so I cried more because I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was pulled two weeks before teachers came back, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. I moved out, nobody was here in the summer, so people were just like — Where is Mona Reid?” And despite her positive experience at Oakland Mills she feels “there’s still no place like Hammond”.
As the new principal, Ms. Reid has implemented various new school rules, policies, and procedures. One of the most notable being the tardy tables which came into play this year. Regarding the new stance on attendance, Ms. Reid said, “Overall, my goal is not to be this controlling. . . hard principal.” Regarding the late policy in the morning specifically, she said “I look at the data and I see that over half of the Hammond population failed at least first period one quarter, or had a D in that one quarter.” In order to improve performance in first period classes, Ms. Reid decided to implement the stricter morning procedures. “We’re valuing what is important for you, and that is my job is to get you across the stage.”
Ms. Reid stated that her top priority as principal is to change the perception of the Hammond Community. She feels that Hammond is unfairly judged by the rest of the county, despite many positive attributes, “I always felt like people don’t know Hammond unless they’re at Hammond. I call this the best kept secret in Howard County. . . automatically our kids are judged because of Hammond.”
Delving into her personal life, Ms. Reid’s “ride or die” is her husband, who was also previously a staff member and coach at Hammond. Ms. Reid also has a passion for gospel music, and she herself is a gospel singer. As well as, her current read of the Trevor Noah book Born a Crime.
Food favorites of Ms. Reid include potatoes, particularly french fries. But also a love for M&Ms with a heartwarming backstory. When playing basketball at Norfolk State University she became known for her love of peanut M&Ms sent to her by her grandmother. Her love for the candy earned Ms. Reid the nickname of ‘M&M’ during her time at Norfolk State. She even has a tattoo highlighting her love for the candy, in the colors of her alma mater McDaniel College.
In the 3 years that Ms. Reid has been gone, Hammond has begun the renovations to ultimately have a whole new school by the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year. Ms. Reid has very positive feelings about the renovations “This means everything to me because of you, right?” she said “I feel like you deserve to have the prettiest, and the only school that does not have something that looks like it… you deserve that”. Since 2004, Ms. Reid has been a huge proponent of these renovations and was relieved when they finally started taking place.
Ms. Reid has high hopes for the future of Hammond. “I want kids to walk around with pride. I want them to know that they deserve everything great in this world.” Her focus is to bring those feelings of pride and excellence to Hammond. “I need them to just know my kids are better than any other kids in this county.”