Previously the Camp Creek Middle School principal, Holland said making the jump to a different academic level brought him face-to-face with his students’ own experience.
“In essence, it’s like we have two first days of school,” he said about eight classes spread over two days, while middle school has seven classes in one day. “It takes some students a little longer to get oriented.”
Holland said the bigger picture also offers a different vista. “High school affords students with more choices and opportunities to explore specific areas of interest that are aligned to career and life goals,” he said.
With students that much closer to the workforce or post-secondary education, Holland said his challenge is more immediate.
“We have to set higher expectations for student achievement and behavior,” he said about college- or career-ready skills and life skills. The bar was higher for Holland, as well, after four years as a middle-school leader, to become the high school’s second principal in as many years.
“I knew that I would have to put in long hours, quickly build a new administration team, get to know the community and work very closely with key school leaders,” he said. Mount Olive Elementary School students and their new principal, Mari Early, also had something in common last week – their first day in a new building.
For Early, previously of Harriet Tubman Elementary, that represented its own opening-day challenge to which stakeholders rose the first day of class, Aug. 11.
“Even though our parking lot is huge, it could not hold the crowd of parents and guardians that poured into the building. That was an awesome sight to see,” she said. Teachers also hit the ground running, Early said.
“By 8 a.m., teachers had their classes settled and were moving their students through the halls to acquaint them with the new building,” she said. “But most importantly, teaching and learning occurred on day one.”
Early said her challenge is to raise academic achievement, with faculty and staff deploying a four-part turnaround plan that may take “the next few years” to show fruit.
“This year we will provide innovative and challenging instruction that is data-driven, incorporates writing across the curriculum, emphasizes subject integration and integrates technology into all content areas,” she said.