Cheer­ing on suc­cess

New prin­ci­pal wants en­tire com­mu­nity to ed­u­cate kids

The Covington News - - SCHOOL BEAT - By Jenny Thompson

Ericka An­der­son — new prin­ci­pal at West New­ton El­e­men­tary School— stands barely taller than most of her fifth grade stu­dents but com­mands re­spect as a leader by giv­ing praise and re­spect to her staff and stu­dents.

“They say ed­u­ca­tion is in my blood,” An­der­son said. “I’ve never wanted to be any­thing else.”

In San­der­sville her mother was an as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent and her fa­ther worked as a school as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal. An­der­son has al­ready logged seven years work­ing as a school ad­min­is­tra­tor. She started her ca­reer as a third grade teacher.

“Af­ter col­lege, I ended up back in San­der­sville with the same peo­ple that taught me,” An­der­son said.

When an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal po­si­tion opened in San­der­sville, her prin­ci­pal en­cour­aged her to ap­ply even though she had no as­pi­ra­tion of pro­mo­tion at the time.

“She saw some­thing in me, even though I didn’t see that in my­self,” An­der­son said. She ap­plied and was hired for the job. Af­ter a cou­ple of years she moved to the Spald­ing County school dis­trict to work as an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at a school in Grif­fin.

She fo­cused on pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and cur­ricu­lum in­struc­tion for five years in Grif­fin, be­fore com­ing to New­ton County as a head prin­ci­pal.

An­der­son said as­sum­ing the head po­si­tion of a school as well as the lo­ca­tion of New­ton County made the de­ci­sion to­move an easy one.

“Cov­ing­ton has a lot of the small town qual­i­ties,” An­der­son said, “but it’s close to At­lanta if I’m feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous.”

Be­cause of the en­cour­age­ment she re­ceived from her prin­ci­pal in San­der­sville, An­der­son said she tries to be a “cheer­leader” for her staff, giv­ing them con­fi­dence to ad­vance ei­ther in their ed­u­ca­tional or ca­reer goals.

Shealso ex­plained the goals she has for the fac­ulty and stu­dents at West New­ton El­e­men­tary.

First, she said schools need to of­fer an en­vi­ron­ment where stu­dents and teach­ers feel safe.

“Some­timesstu­dents can’t learn if they don’t feel safe,” An­der­son said.

An­der­son wants to be­gin a new pro­gram which gives stu­dents who­have­g­oo­dat­ten­dancere­cords per­sonal sup­port and praise from her­self and their teach­ers.

“They can’t learn if they’re not in the build­ing,” An­der­son said. She said the new Never Been Ab­sent (NBA) Club will pro­vide “in­trin­sic­mo­ti­va­tion.” Ratherthan giv­ing a stu­dent a pen­cil or stick­ers, stu­dents will re­ceive ver­bal com­men­da­tions from the fac­ulty.

She hopes teacher ap­plause as well as spe­cial lunches with teach­ers will pro­mote good at­ten­dance.

The idea for the NBA Club came from ex­am­in­ing prac­tices and poli­cies in other school dis­tricts.

“I’m very com­pet­i­tive and I look at other schools,” An­der­son said, “and if they are do­ing some­thing that works, I look at how we can bring it toWest New­ton.”

An­other one of An­der­son’s pri­mary goals is to in­volve not only par­ents in their chil­dren’s ed­uca- tions, but also the com­mu­nity.

“When I was in school, the school was the cen­ter of the com­mu­nity,” An­der­son said, “and with all the sub­di­vi­sions pop­ping up around here, that’s re­ally im­por­tant.

“We all have to get to­gether to make sure our kids have a bright fu­ture.”

Jenny Thompson/Cov­ing­ton News

Stand­ing tall and sit­ting pretty: Ericka An­der­son, West New­ton El­e­men­tary’s new prin­ci­pal, pauses a mo­ment in the school’s com­mons area with a sign out­lin­ing the mis­sion state­ment of West New­ton’s staff.

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