The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 26, 2013

Principals offer glimpse at school year in Stanly County

By Tiffany Thompson and Marina Shankle, for the SNAP

Monday, August 26, 2013 — Schools in Stanly County will see many changes in leadership in the upcoming school year. Several principals in new positions took the time to share their thoughts for the upcoming year with the SNAP.

Albemarle Middle

Albemarle Middle School (AMS) will welcome Beverly Pennington as its new principal.

Pennington first served in an administrative position in 1999 as assistant principal at West Montgomery Middle.

In 2002, she moved with her family to Stanly County and worked as assistant principal at South Stanly High School during the 2002-2003 school year.

Pennington then served as the director of student services for Stanly County Schools (SCS) for four years.

“An opportunity to return to school-based administration came my way in 2007. This opportunity took me to northwest Georgia,” she said.

Pennington served as an associate principal with Bartow County Schools for two years before returning to North Carolina and working as an assistant principal with Union County Schools.

“The return to Stanly County is a homecoming of sorts. It has allowed me to return to a school I dearly love and the community I have always called home,” Pennington said.

Pennington feels ready for her new position at AMS, she said.

“The opportunities I have experienced prior to my assignment at Albemarle Middle School have prepared me well,” Pennington said.

“I do not believe AMS will be a big change for me. If anything, it is very familiar to me.”

One reason Pennington is familiar to the school is that her children attended AMS in the 2003-2004 school year.

“My oldest son, Ross, was in the eighth grade. The twins, Trey and Allie, were in the sixth grade,” Pennington said.

“As a previous AMS parent, I know firsthand the dedication of the AMS staff and the quality instruction students receive. AMS prepared my children well for high school and beyond. I will work hard to make sure that each of our parents have the same sense of satisfaction that I experienced as an AMS parent.”

Pennington is most looking forward to being in the classrooms at AMS, she said.

“There is something magical about seeing the learning process unfold in the classroom,” she said.

“I am also super excited about working with our parents and the Albemarle community. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ holds a great deal of truth for me. Working together with parents and community, our staff and students will achieve great success.”

Pennington said she has a simple plan for the school: a daily focus on teaching and learning.

“Working with my staff, we will create an environment of excellence where everything we do is designed to support the learning process. It is my desire to provide a high quality of instruction in a caring, supportive environment,” Pennington said.

“While we will continue to work on specific reading and math goals with our students, I will also be working with our teachers to prepare for the district’s one-to-one laptop implementation during the 2014-2015 school year.”

While the one-to-one laptop program will take place during the next school year, a few changes will take place this year, too, Pennington said.

“The most noticeable changes at AMS will be some of the new faces our students will see when  they return,” she said.

Assistant Principal Curtis Parker and several new teachers will be joining the AMS team.

“Along with new faces on the staff, our students will see a great presence of volunteers in the building,” Pennington said.

Pennington and Parker have been working on a new program called the Bulldog Executive Service Team (BEST) that utilizes volunteers to help supervise students at busy times in the day and to help with clerical duties in the office.

Pennington said the school is also hoping to host a celebration event in honor of the 10th anniversary of the its current location. A clean-up day took place Aug. 10 to help prepare for the event and other special occasions.

East Albemarle Elementary

Principal Dr. Rick Hessman, newly appointed to East Albemarle Elementary School, said reading will be emphasized at East this school year.

“The most important skill a young person can develop is learning to read,” Hessman said.

“Without becoming a great reader, life is difficult. Reading is the key to success in school and in the workforce.”

East will stress reading instruction in several different ways, Hessman said, including corrective reading and reading mastery learning sessions at the beginning of every school day and a minimum of one hour of reading instruction on a daily basis.

Reading instruction will be included in all subject areas and tutoring will be available to students from September until May 2014.

“Reading instruction will occur with textbooks, white boards, Activboards, iPads and laptops,” he said.

In the school’s computer lab before school, East Albemarle students will be able to access Study Island, an Internet site that offers entertaining learning opportunities.

Assessments of students’ reading skills will take place throughout the year.

“In order for students to be promoted to their next grade, progress in reading must be demonstrated,” Hessman said.

“Students should read at home each night. They will be reading throughout the day at school.”

Hessman said he also plans to work closely with teachers.

“As principal, I will do everything possible to support teachers in their daily instruction,” he said.

“The key to having a successful school is having teachers doing outstanding things with students in their classrooms every day.”

Endy Elementary

Endy Elementary School will welcome Karen Nixon as its principal this year.

“I have six years of administrative experience, four years as assistant principal at Albemarle High School and two years as principal,” Nixon said.

“I know there will be an adjustment period after being in the high school arena for six years, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Prior to serving as an administrator, she spent 13 years in the elementary classroom with Stanly County Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Nixon said she is looking forward to working with staff, students and community members at Endy.

“In the few weeks that I’ve been here, my interactions with staff, students and parents have all been very positive,” she said.

Nixon said she hopes to continue Endy’s tradition of academic success.

“The Endy community has demonstrated a dedication to the academic success of all students for many years. This year, we will continue to build upon that success through continued collaboration and the use of research-based instructional strategies,” Nixon said.

Locust Elementary

Principal David Grice, new to Locust Elementary School, previously served as principal at Albemarle Middle School for four years.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this year at Locust Elementary School, to working with the children, teachers, staff and community,” Grice said.

“I’ve heard it’s a great community and a great school.”

Grice said the school will focus on implementing Home Base, an instructional improvement and student information system that is part of a state initiative.

Proficiency will be another focus, Grice said.

“As always, we will be concentrating on improving EOG (End of Grade) proficiency in literacy and math,” he said.

“We’ll be making sure our students are served to the best of our ability.”

Norwood Elementary     

Principal Tanya Crisco is coming to Norwood Elementary School during a momentous year for the school.

“With this being the 100th birthday of public education in Norwood, I have expressed to faculty and staff, as I will to our students as well, the honor of being a part of this year,” Crisco said.

“With that honor comes the opportunity to reflect on the past, all while we build on our future. We have a responsibility like no other to continue to make Norwood Elementary the absolute best that it can be in all facets.”

Attaining this goal will take teamwork, she said, so she wants to see the faculty, students, parents and guard-ians, community  members, local businesses and the county to join her in celebrating this milestone.

Crisco has served as assistant principal to schools in the southern district for five years, working at both South Stanly High School and South Stanly Middle School.

“Norwood will be a change in the sense of the age of students from my previous administrative experience, but being from an elementary teaching background, I feel the transition will be smooth,” Crisco said.

“Students are students, all seeking the same things, just at a different level and in a different sized body.”

Crisco said she is looking forward to continuing to work with the South Stanly community and she feels that the faculty and staff at Norwood have a lot of energy and excitement going into this school year.

“This will be felt by students as they enter the doors,” she said.

“I plan to see Norwood strive for academic successes, continue to build partnerships within the community to assist us in this process and do so while fostering and aiding students to possess pride, respect, accountability and a sense of team and unity.”

Crisco said the school will implement changes as needed to meet student needs, including a Positive Behavior System.

“The system that will be put into place will positively reinforce behaviors that will increase individual responsibility, respect and accountability, which in turn ultimately affects classroom and school-wide systems,” she said.

South Stanly Middle

South Stanly Middle School (SSMS) will welcome Damon Rhodes as its principal this school year.

Rhodes worked as assistant principal at C.C. Griffin Middle School in Concord for three years; principal at the former Kendall Valley Elementary School for two years; principal at Running Creek Elementary School for four years; and principal at West Stanly Middle School for two years.

“I have several years of experience in middle school administration,” he said.

“The biggest part of the change is learning a new staff, new students and a new community. I am excited about the new opportunities provided at a different school.”

While he said there will not be many changes specific to SSMS this year, Rhodes said the school will focus on school system changes, including implementing Powerschool and training staff to use this new information system.

“Because I am new to SSMS, my plans are to learn the school and look to build upon its past successes,” Rhodes said.

“I am simply ready to get started with the new year.”

West Stanly Middle

After three years as an assistant principal with West Stanly High School, Sandie Brundin moves to West Stanly Middle School as the new principal.

“I am excited to work with the staff and students here. While it’s a bit of change for me to work with middle school-aged students, I’m optimistic about this year,” Brundin said.

Brundin brings with her more than 10 years of experience in the classroom, having taught at Stanfield Elementary School. She also served briefly as an assistant principal with South Stanly Middle School.

As part of the changes coming to the middle school this year, Brundin plans to implement an advisory time period for students where they can take part in tutoring and mentoring programs.

“We also plan to add some clubs and programs this year, as well as some sports teams,” Brundin said.

The school is also expanding its curriculum through a partnership with West Stanly High School.

“We’re adding career and technical education, family and consumer sciences, agricultural and an additional band period this year,” Brundin said.

“Our goal is to provide top quality education for our students and to prepare them to move into the 21st century.

“I’m looking forward to a great year. We have a dedicated staff here and I am excited for what should be a very positive year.”

Stanly Early College High School

Anne Faulkenberry has made the move to principal of Stanly Early College High School after having the same position at Millingport Elementary School for several years. Despite the change in grade levels, she is excited about her new opportunity.

“I am adjusting to the fact that these students are much more independent and they don’t need as much assistance from us. I am looking forward to working with the students and staff as we move forward with the school year,” Faulkenberry said.

Having spent more than 22 years with Stanly County Schools, Faulkenberry worked as an assistant principal and an exceptional children (EC) teacher within the school district.

As the new principal at Stanly Early College, Faulkenberry said she plans to keep programs that are currently in place while working with staff to maintain the school as a School of Excellence.

“We plan to improve the seminar program for the students,” she said.

She said that the seminar program provides a background for students to allow them to be more successful in school. As freshmen and sophomores, students are taught how to focus on their college courses through Stanly Community College, and as juniors, seniors and senior-plus, students learn how to apply and choose a college that they would like to attend after graduation.

“We want to make sure the students are successful while focusing on each student’s specific grade level. This program helps to prepare them for what is next,” Faulkenberry said.

Other goals for the school include working to increase student interaction with the community through community service learning projects, as well as to focus on the North Carolina New Schools Project, which is a program designed to bring schools, businesses and local government together to help engage students in their learning.

“We have a tremendous program here and it is a tremendous opportunity for students to consider and take advantage of if they’re accepted,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Principals Daniel Goodman (Oakboro), Shelby Lawson (Millingport), Julie McSwain (Richfield) and Jessie Morton (Albemarle High) could not be reached for comment by deadline for this story.