ED­U­CA­TOR SPOT­LIGHT Lead­ing the way

Hughes takes the helm at Liv­ingston El­e­men­tary

The Covington News - - EDUCATION - By Jenny Thompson

Wendy Hughes, new prin­ci­pal at Liv­ingston El­e­men­tary, en­tered her first job as a prin­ci­pal with con­fi­dence be­cause even though she has never held a school’s head po­si­tion, she has worked in ed­u­ca­tion for more than 20 years.

She also cred­its her pre­de­ces­sor, Jackie Car­son, with build­ing a tra­di­tion of strong staff sup­port at Liv­ingston and mak­ing her first weeks much less hec­tic.

“This school runs like a top,” Hughes said. “Liv­ingston has so many great teacher lead­ers.”

Hughes has trav­eled a rather wind­ing road to school ad­min­is­tra­tion. She grad­u­ated from East Ten­nessee State Univer­sity with a de­gree in speech, theater and mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Af­ter col­lege, she be­gan work writ­ing and pro­duc­ing television com­mer­cials for WJHL-TV in John­son City, Tenn.

When she re­al­ized she was un­happy in that ca­reer, she de­cided to pur­sue a mas­ter of arts in teach­ing.

“I have to say that one of the draws of the class­room was that I was kind of on the stage ev­ery­day — per­form­ing to my stu­dents,” Hughes said.

She started her teach­ing ca­reer with kin­der­gart­ners at a private school in Ten­nessee and since has taught ev­ery grade — ex­cept sec­ond— up to eighth.

In 1987, she and her fam­ily moved to Ge­or­gia. She be­gan teach­ing in DeKalb County, where she had her first en­counter with pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and strug­gling stu­dents.

“That’s when I learned to teach,” Hughes said.

Hughes then taught in Rock­dale County for six years on the mid­dle school level. When a po­si­tion opened as so­cial stud­ies cur­ricu­lum co­or­di­na­tor for Rock­dale County, her prin­ci­pal en­cour­aged her to ap­ply.

Even though she held no lead­er­ship de­gree at the time, county ad­min­is­tra­tors hired her for the po­si­tion.

“What I learned from that po­si­tion is that it’s not what you know,” Hughes said. “It’s the sup­port you give.”

Af­ter ob­tain­ing her lead­er­ship and spe­cial­ist de­grees from UGA, Henry County ad­min­is­tra­tors of­fered her a job as county di­rec­tor of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

Work­ing for Henry County, she trav­eled all around the coun­try and even to Scot­land bring­ing word of the best prac­tices and poli­cies back to those schools.

“Most ed­u­ca­tors don’t get those op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Hughes said.

Hughes then went to work in At­lanta as the di­rec­tor of teacher qual­ity for the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. Soon, she re­al­ized some­thing was miss­ing from her life.

“I was so far away from stu­dents,” Hughes said, “and if I’m not around chil­dren, I’m in with­drawal.”

That’s why Hughes said she feels blessed to be named prin­ci­pal of Liv­ingston. She said the New­ton County School Sys­tem em­ploys an ex­tremely help­ful and knowl­edge­able net­work of ed­u­ca­tors and ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Hughes knows she will face un­ex­pected chal­lenges as prin­ci­pal, but for now she rel­ishes be­ing among chil­dren again, rather than with politi­cians and pol­icy mak­ers.

“From minute to minute, you don’t knowwhat you’ll be asked or what is­sues will pop up,” Hughes said.

One of her goals is to sort of re­cruit her stu­dents.

“My goal is for ev­ery­body I touch to be­come a teacher be­cause it’s a fab­u­lous job,” Hughes said.

She wants her stu­dents to en­joy their ex­pe­ri­ences at Liv­ingston so much it in­flu­ences them to pur­sue ca­reers in ed­u­ca­tion.

An­other of Hughes’ goals is for the school to re­ally live up to its motto of “a fam­ily friendly school.” She said some of her stu­dents may not have ad­e­quate sup­port at home, and she wants the school to fill in the gaps.

“I be­lieve that ev­ery an­swer to ev­ery is­sue in this school lies within the­walls of this school,” Hughes said. “I don’t knowex­actly howwe are go­ing to do it, but we’ll find a way to do it here.”

Hughes said she has en­joyed driv­ing only six miles to work — rather than 40 miles into At­lanta — and to be met with hugs and high fives when she ar­rives.

“I drive to work ev­ery morn­ing and I greet ev­ery child that gets off the bus,” Hughes said, “and I see the most beau­ti­ful chil­dren and I try to get a smile from ev­ery one of them.

“That starts my day like noth­ing else starts my day.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Ready to lead: Liv­ingston El­e­men­tary School’s new prin­ci­pal Wendy Hughes proudly stands in front of the school. This is Hughes’ first op­por­tu­nity to serve as prin­ci­pal for a school.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.