Centennial is searching for a new principal – again.
After just one and a half years as Centennial’s principal, Dr. Anthony Newbold left last semester to be principal of the South Fulton Magnet STEM school set to be open Fall 2021. Aaron Moore is our interim principal until Centennial’s new principal is hired the end of February. After Newbold’s sudden departure, there were questions as to how our school is affected and the plans moving forward.
Assistant Principal Nikkole Flowers said, “Interviews will be at the end of January. Hopefully, by the middle of February we’ll know who the new principal is. That’s a tentative timeline.”
When asked if Newbold’s departure has altered the work environment she said, “I don’t think anything has been affected. It’s been recent since he’s left at the end of the semester, but we have our policies and procedures in place that we will carry out no matter who is in the building. The students are awesome. The teachers are awesome. The staff is awesome. So we’re just moving on business as usual,” she added.
Interim principal Moore was taken out of retirement; he used to work in DeKalb County. On the Loft he described himself as, “I’m very easy going. I’m low-key sometimes, but just have to make sure the job is done by any means necessary, and I’ll get that job done.”
A principal is important not only as a higher-up administrator, but also for the many tasks that accompany the job. Flowers said, “The principal is the primary person who oversees everything that is happening in the building from budgeting, to staffing, to hiring, to meeting with the students, the staff, and different community members. He or she is really the person who guides the ship.”
Art teacher John Riggins has worked here since the school opened in 1997 and said he has worked with nine principals. He said that attributes that make a good principal is when he or she “trusts the staff that they know what they’re doing, not micromanaging staff. I am a curriculum specialist in art. I’ve written curriculum, I’ve taught best practices, and I’ve written the actual curriculum for Intro Art History, Sculpture, and Photo. I’ve done this over 23 years. So, I think the best principals realize that we are specialists in our fields and they let us teach and not micromanage us,” he added.
Multicultural Literature teacher Michael Higgins shared similar opinions and said qualities that make a good principal are “integrity. Confidence in their staff, someone who is empowering. A good leader gives a focus or direction and empowers their people to achieve that goal.”
Some areas Riggins said that Centennial can improve on are discipline issues. “There are a lot of students who feel like they can do anything without any consequences for them, and that has got to end,” he said. “The grading in which teachers can’t give zeroes. That’s wrong. Students that don’t do work shouldn’t get a passing grade just because they are sitting in class; it takes effort to actually pass a class.”
Higgins suggested that areas of improvement can be “to bring back a lot of programs that we’ve lost recently.” One program he mentioned was AOK, curriculum that specifically remediated struggling students.
In terms of how involved a principal is at the school Riggins said, “It’s as big as they want to. I’ve had principals in the past who’ve stayed hidden in their room and you never see them. Then there are principals who are out every hall change and they try to get to know the students. Each principal is different, but then again they get pulled out a lot to go to meetings in downtown,” he added.
On the same topic, Higgins said that a principal’s role is “enormous, just because they set the tone for everything else. I’ve had principals that were very low-key and weren’t that hands on, but also had an impact on the school as well. And, then we’ve had principals that tried to micromanage every aspect of our lives and that also had far ranging implications.”
Both teachers said they hope the new principal will have faith in Centennial’s staff to continue teaching well in their subject areas. Riggins said, “What we need is a principal who wants to stay and make a commitment to Centennial, not to their careers, not to something other than helping and working with students.”
Higgins said,”What I hope that the new principal focuses on is morale and actually putting students first. Centennial is a fantastic school with a dedicated and caring staff and with the right leadership this can be the best experience that students have in their academic careers.”