Principals optimistic about new year in education

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Principals in both Southampton County and Franklin public school divisions were smiling wider than even the students on Tuesday, the first day of the new school year.

Deborah Hicks, interim principal at Meherrin Elementary, described the start as “Excellent! Everyone’s excited about learning. The vision is to educate students to be successful and productive lifelong learners.” She added that there will be a stronger emphasis on learning technology as well as other academic subjects.

Southampton Middle’s Principal Darian Bell said the goal at his school is to “educate the whole child. At this stage of the game for 10-13 years olds, they’re at a pivotal part of their life. Trying things for themselves.”

He added that SMS has always been a model for other schools in the division, and this year they’ll work toward recognition as a national model for educating excellence. Bell said he’ll apply for the National Blue Ribbon Award and other honors.

“People need to hear about us. We’ve got some great kids and a great staff,” said Bell. He also mentioned that there are several new teachers, April Griffith for STEM, Aleshia Johnston, who is returning to reach language arts and history. Rebecca Williams will teach math. Kenneth Woodley, a former band director in Chesapeake, has joined the crew. Jerrell King and Kendra Purvis and Julianne Ward are also in the mix.

“We pride ourselves on getting them [the students] ready for high school,” said Bell.

Nottoway Elementary Principal Susan Melbye said at her school the emphasis will be on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. New to the curriculum will be the students learning coding. In fact, this is a division-wide assignment, according to her husband, Will Melbye, principal at Riverdale Elementary School in Courtland. Susan added there will be more hands-on activities, such as science labs and STEM Nights.

Will said the word for the year at Riverdale will be “Elevate,” as in taking the learning to a higher level.

Franklin High Principal Travis Felts said one goal at his school will be to significantly increase the scores on major subjects. The aim is to get 98 percent for English, 80 percent for math and 90 percent for science, history and the graduation passing rate.

Although there’s been progress made on the learning environment at the school and safety for students and staff, “there is room for growth,” he said.

Further, the school will work toward improving morale for teachers and staff as well as student.

Increasing parental involvement in learning by reinstating Parents Accessing Their Child’s Education organization.