New principals begin school year

  • Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Staff photo by T.J. Lundeen Kathryn Cooney, a fifth-grade teacher at Belvedere Elementary School, helps a student during the first day of school.

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Three women woke up on Monday for their first day as principals of new schools.


Dr. Amy McClure of Belvedere Elementary and Phyllis Gamble of North Augusta Middle are both at their first posts as principals, while Wendy Jacobs moved to a new school, North Augusta Elementary, after serving as principal at North Augusta Middle.


“It was very exciting and awe-inspiring,” McClure said of her first day. “I have a great faculty and staff here, and I am very appreciative of having them helping to get things going. The first day has gone great, most of our parents came to meet the teachers, so when the kids came in they knew where to go and who their teachers were. This morning we’ve just had a lot of support, and everybody has been great.”


Gamble, who moved into the principal role at North Augusta Middle School following stints as a teacher and assistant principal, most looked forward to bringing in more parent involvement this year.


“It’s exciting for me; this is all exciting for me,” she said of her first day as principal. “I’ve been here at North Augusta Middle School for nine years, but this is my first year as principal. I really want to see more parent involvement because I think that helps the kids and the school. If we can work together to help educate the kids, that will be great. I’m excited about the whole thing.”


While the move from elementary school to middle school can be scary, Gamble and the staff of North Augusta Middle School have worked over the summer to make the transition easier for the sixth-graders.


“One of the big things is just knowing the school,” she said. “It looks big, but each grade really has a small part. The sixth-graders are on top with a few classes down at the bottom. They had a tour (during sixth-grade orientation) to make sure they know where they have to go. Students are really nervous about lockers, as well, so we try to make sure they can get into those.”


Jacobs made a different transition from the students, moving from middle school to elementary school.


“The biggest change, obviously, is the different needs of the different ages of students,” she said. “Here we’ve got pre-K to fifth grade, and, of course, at the middle school it’s sixth to eighth grade. Students are dealing with different sets of needs and issues. I’m just excited to be back in elementary, where I did some teaching in first grade. I was actually the director of Grace’s preschool kindergarten program for a while. I’m happy to be back at this grade level, where I can work with students from the beginning and get them ready for what I know they’ll be facing in middle school.”


Parental involvement also is key for Jacobs this year, as she’s looking to continue a strong Parent-Teacher-Organization at the school.


“We’re planning to continue involving our parents in as many activities as possible,” she said. “We want our parents to feel welcomed at our school, and we want to work with our community and business partners to provide excellent education and as many opportunities as possible for our students. Personally, I feel like this is a fantastic faculty and staff. They’re very dedicated and motivated to do the best for every child in their classrooms.”


T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.


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