Arthur Blevins of Austin Road Elementary was the school’s second-in-command from 2008 to 2012.
He discovered “a big learning curve” as he adjusted to the new job.
“Though you do a lot as an assistant principal, the principalship is a different side,” Blevins said.
He was also rocked by system-wide upgrades.
“I believe in moving when the cheese moves, but this year we had a whole lot of cheese moving,” Blevins said. “We had a new evaluation system of teachers and ourselves. We had the new performance index. So we had a lot of newness.”
Overall, his first year at the helm “went very well.”
“The support I’ve had has been overwhelmingly good,” Blevins said. “When I call to ask questions, I get instant responses.”
Jolie Hardin of McDonough Elementary, an experienced principal in the Houston County school district, found the teachers had to get used to her high expectations.
“We started some initiatives that I think the teachers may have been nervous about, but they embraced them,” Hardin said about changes like study groups that boosted math scores nearly 10 points. “The teachers, by February, were very comfortable.”
She said her own comfort level has been enhanced by the presence of her husband, J.D. Hardin, as the system’s communications specialist.
“Any time you have your spouse in the same area, you feel very supported,” she said. “I think if he wasn’t here anyway, I would feel that support. Him being here a year made that transition easier for me.”
Like the others, Ola Middle Principal Kathleen Truitt had prior leadership experience.
But the transition from eight years in elementary schools to grades six, seven and eight rocked her at first.
“It was adjusting to the different grade levels and ages of students, and working with all their interests and the different clubs.” Truitt said.
She also has more than 1,100 individuals under her care.
“Learning my students’ names,” Truitt said of her biggest challenge. “I do not know all their names. I know all their faces and we’re continuing to work on names.”
Like the others, she credits her support system with her successful first year.
“I have an excellent faculty and staff,” Truitt said.