This National Assistant Principals’ Week, we are highlighting our very own staff members who formerly served as Assistant Principals at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Still deeply rooted in education, GCA’s Kay Elder, Linda Calhoun, and Debbie Daniell look back with fond memories on the unforgettable experiences with their students, parents, and teachers:
Gwin Oaks Elementary, Lawrenceville (1999-2004)
Harbins Elementary, Dacula (2004-2010)
This is probably the place in my career I loved the most. I loved the service aspect of the work – serving kids, serving families, serving teachers. Even the hard days had rays of sunshine; hugs from students and teachers who would just drop by my office or catch me in the hall to share something good that had happened during their day.
In a drawer in my office in Athens, I keep a folder of notes, emails, etc., from students, parents, and colleagues given to me during my time in schools. Two come to mind:
The first is a student-made book about the movie Aladdin made for me by a kindergarten friend who was having a hard time transitioning to school. We spent a lot of time together in those first weeks of school. He is in high school now, I think, and I hope I had a hand in helping him start down that path.
The other is an email from a sweet mama who took the time to recognize some extra steps I had taken to try to help her daughter through a rough patch. The relationship with the family took time, and many investments on my part to build trust, but at the end of the day, this friend was successful, and the school forged a great partnership with the family. Both remind me that educators can and do make a difference. I hope I did in the lives of these little people. They serve as a reminder of who sits at the other end of our work at GCA. I hope I never lose sight of that.
Creekland Middle School, Lawrenceville (1997-2001)
The principal who hired me was always concerned about supporting teachers. I was hired to work with Curriculum and Instruction and Testing, which was not the typical AP position. One of the principal’s goals was to host a professional learning day for the teachers at our school. One of my fondest memories was planning and orchestrating what we called the SMILE conference. SMILE stood for “Staff Members Improving Leadership in Education.” The first year, we held ten sessions; teachers were able to choose morning and afternoon sessions. The next year, our principal wanted to repeat the conference and invite teachers from the other middle school in our cluster. I remember how validated the teachers felt and how much they appreciated being able to have a day where they could learn, share, and go out to lunch like other professionals. Having this experience at Creekland led to other opportunities in my personal career. But, the SMILE-ing teachers left an impression that has stayed with me over the years.
Oconee County High School, Watkinsville (1998 – 2000)
My fondest memories include working with teachers as we transitioned from a traditional classroom structure to a block schedule. Watching veteran educators work to enable their students to reach content mastery using many different instructional strategies that perhaps they had never tried before and seeing their “ah ha” moment, was wonderful. In addition, seeing students enhance their learning by having the opportunity to take additional classes just because they wanted to experience something new was a special treat!