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Westminster junior high principal kicks off first year
by Caroline Young
cyoung@neighbornewspapers.com
August 22, 2012 12:54 PM | 969 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Danette Morton loves middle school. In fact, she devoted her entire career to it.

This year, she will be the new junior high school principal at the Westminster Schools in Buckhead. Morton is replacing Bo Adams, who is now a consultant in the private sector.

“I love the freedom that human beings have in that stage of life. … We’re always very indebted to all the hard work from elementary school that teaches kids how to read, compute, tie shoes and be on a schedule,” Morton said. “I love the freedom that we have as educators to have a lot of fun with learning. … We get to take all that raw material and layer onto that all of their innate creativity.”

The Buckhead resident said she sees the middle school period as a time of “widening lenses on the world” with humor, awkwardness and joy, as well as a time of developing awareness of the difficulties, which come with being human.

“Their feet are growing inches in weeks,” Morton said. “The growth is so much more gradual in elementary and high school but this is a stage of very rapid development, emotionally, cognitively, socially and physically. … It’s a really special opportunity to be able to walk with them through that.”

Aside from her love of middle school students, Morton said she decided Westminster was the best fit for her because the people welcomed her in a way she never expected.

“I was completely unprepared for falling in love with the people here,” she said. “I just saw this highly intellectual and informed conversation around new directions in education, along with a deeply spiritual and joyful commitment to human development.”

She said the commitment and enthusiasm were the two factors that really struck her about the Westminster staff.

And Westminster President William Clarkson seems to feel the same way, as he described Morton as “technically just a perfect fit.”

“She is a deeply compassionate person who once you meet her, you instantly fall in love with her and conclude, ‘I really want to be around this woman,’” Clarkson said. “It was kind of electrifying. … She is a complete human being. … It takes a pretty special group of people who commit their professional lives to this age group.”

Additionally, Clarkson said her experience also was ideal for what the school was looking for in the new employee.

Morton earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at Duke University but then “followed her heart” and got her master’s degree in middle school education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Before joining Westminster unexpectedly, she worked at several different schools in North Carolina as a teacher, director of financial aid and a head of an upper school.

In July Morton moved to Atlanta with her husband Kevin, daughters Chelsea, 7, Bristol, 1, and stepsons Jaylan, 16, and Juston, 13. She is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., but spent most of her life in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.
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