Ready to lead Rams into next chap­ter

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­

Eclan David said he is an ed­u­ca­tor who cares about stu­dents and is com­mit­ted to their suc­cess. The Grif­fin-Spald­ing County mid- dle-school prin­ci­pal is ex­cited to bring his ed­u­ca­tional phi­los­o­phy to the high school level as the new prin­ci­pal of New­ton High School.

David, 39, has spent the past nine years as the prin­ci­pal at Carver Road Mid­dle School in Grif­fin, where he was re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that stu­dents and teach­ers had the nec­es­sary re­sources, work and learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment to achieve aca­demic suc­cess. But at the last New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing, he was named the new New­ton High prin­ci­pal and will now serve as a leader at a high school.

Born and raised in the St. Thomas, U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands, David said he has al­ways felt good about play­ing an im­por­tant role in the lives of so many young

peo­ple as an ed­u­ca­tor.

Prior to serv­ing as prin­ci­pal at Carver Mid­dle, he was the as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal for two years at A.Z. Kelsey Mid­dle School in Grif­fin. And be­fore that he was an el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school teacher for six years in the DeKalb County School Sys­tem.

He said work­ing at both the el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school level, he found that stu­dents don’t trust ed­u­ca­tors un­less they be­lieve those ed­u­ca­tors truly care about them. He said this is also true at the high school level.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if you have de­grees from Tuskegee or Har­vard; (stu­dents) will not care about what you know un­til they know that you care,” David said. “If you can’t build re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents, you will not be suc­cess­ful.”

David said he be­lieves that each and ev­ery child has the po­ten­tial to be suc­cess­ful. The po­ten­tial, he said, must be nur­tured through the com­mit­ment of the en­tire com­mu­nity — ed­u­ca­tors, par­ents, busi­nesses, and civic, faith­based, and non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“Our com­bined ef­forts have the abil­ity to trans­form an en­tire com­mu­nity of stu­dents,” David said. “I do not subscribe to the be­lief of, ‘If I can save one child, then I have done my job.’ If I can only pos­i­tively af­fect the life of one child, then I have failed; fail­ure is not an op­tion for the stu­dents of New­ton High School.”

Un­der the lead­er­ship of Craig Lock­hart, New­ton High School has made sev­eral ac­com­plish­ments over the past three years. The school earned a score of 76 on the 2013 CCRPI (Col­lege and Ca­reer Ready Per­for­mance In­dex) re­port, sur­pass­ing the state aver­age of 72.6; reached an 88 per­cent Rate of Im­prove­ment in aca­demic achieve­ment over a three-year pe­riod; was named a Ti­tle I Re­ward School for 201213; and reached a four-year co­hort grad­u­a­tion rate of 83 per­cent, com­pared with the state’s 69.7 per­cent.

Lock­hart has of­ten cred­ited the schools’ suc­cess to the com­mit­ment of the fac­ulty and staff. David echoed Lock­hart’s be­lief that hav­ing strong, com­mit­ted lead­ers at a school pushes its stu­dents for aca­demic achieve­ment. He added that ev­ery de­ci­sion that he makes as prin­ci­pal must be about the stu­dents.

In ad­di­tion to over­all stu­dent im­prove­ments at New­ton High, New­ton’s class of 2013 earned a record amount in aca­demic schol­ar­ships, to­tal­ing $10.3 mil­lion. David said he would con­tinue bring­ing schol­ar­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences to NHS stu­dents be­cause they don’t know what’s out there un­til they are ex­posed to those op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“When I think back on my ex­pe­ri­ences as a high school stu­dent, ex­po­sure is what made the dif­fer­ence for me... If stu­dents don’t have ac­cess to col­lege-level ex­pe­ri­ences, they will never be­lieve that col­lege is a pos­si­bil­ity,” David said.

“This means cre­at­ing more part­ner­ships sim­i­lar to the (Acad­emy of Lib­eral Arts at New­ton High School) and Ox­ford Col­lege, in­creas­ing the num­ber of stu­dents tak­ing AP classes and build­ing on an en­vi­ron­ment that lets stu­dents know that col­lege is al­ways an op­tion.”

David has a B.S. de­gree in el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion from Tuskegee Univer­sity in Tuskegee, Ala., a M.Ed. de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion and lead­er­ship from the Univer­sity of West Ge­or­gia, and is pur­su­ing a Ph.D. in ed­u­ca­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia and ex­pects to grad­u­ate next spring. David plans to be in New­ton County full-time this week, He and his wife Vic­to­ria have been mar­ried for 10 years, and have two chil­dren, Eres Olivia and Eclan Emanuel III (Tripp).

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