Loudoun Count, Va. (September 27, 2014) – There are similarities in her differences…
Deborah Lee is the principal at both Banneker and Aldie elementary schools this year. While her schedule is busier, she can break down her new role in one sentence: “I have more children to hug and more children to love.”
Half-time principals are nothing new at Aldie. (The school has been served by a halftime principal since 2010 and previously had a part-time principal from 1994 to 1998.) With the opening of the Middleburg Community Charter School this year, Aldie lost the partner with which it shared a principal. Thus Lee will split time between Aldie and Banneker, where she has been principal for seven years.
Lee sees great similarities between the schools.
“Both schools are very supportive and caring communities. They’re very similar in that respect. Both care very deeply about their schools and the small-school community.”
Banneker has 156 students and Aldie 127. They are 10.6 miles apart and Lee can make the drive in 15 minutes.
Lee wants to develop the staffs of Aldie and Banneker into a learning community. “I’ve been telling (my Banneker staff members) for years that they’re an island in a small school – especially if there’s one teacher in a grade level – and now they can communicate with someone else.”
To foster that communication, Lee will have joint staff meetings once a month at an alternating location. The staffs will read a book together, get together in grade levels and talk about curriculum and student outcomes. “It’s going to be more of a professional learning community-type of meeting.”
Lee will spend a full day each week at each school and three half days. When she’s at a school, Lee will be very visible. “When I’m there, I’m going to be out there for bus duty. I love bus duty. I love to be out there greeting them when they get off the bus.”
Lunch shifts are another place she’ll get to know students. “I like that walking around and helping and talking to the kids.”
This week she talked to an Aldie fourth-grader who got a glove from one of the West Virginia players at the West Virginia-Maryland game. Lee got on her iPad and looked up college football schedules so that she could expand her dialogue with the student. “I’m going to get to know them and check up on them. I’m always talking to teachers.”
She’s still working on learning the names of all her Aldie students. “I’m getting mixed up on the K’s in the fourth grade class. They have a lot of K’s in the girls. I’m starting to put parents with children. That’s very important for me to know everyone’s name.”
Paperless technology is a must for Lee in balancing her roles. She said she’ll have all the important documents she needs for both schools on her computer or iPad. “I’ve always thought I was organized, but I think I’m going to have to be even more organized now.”