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Meet the principals at three local schools for National Principal's Month

Chapel Hill High School, located off of Seawell School Rd, pictured on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

During National Principals Month, schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area are appreciating the leaders who are at the center of elementary, middle and high schools. 

Charles Blanchard is in his fifth year serving as the principal of Chapel Hill High School. Before moving to the area, he was a principal at multiple schools in Greensboro.

“The reason I wanted to become a principal is just having the ability to impact all of the students and the entire school community,” Blanchard said. “I'm always just so impressed by the passion and the great things that our kids and our teachers do.”

Lewis Newman, the athletic director at Chapel Hill High School, said he is a longtime colleague of Blanchard. He said they worked together at Grimsley High School in Greensboro before Blanchard moved to Chapel Hill, and Newman followed him to Chapel Hill High School

Newman said that if Blanchard were to leave, he’d be interested in following him wherever he goes.

Blanchard said he engages with the community on a daily basis. He said he greets everyone in the halls, attends sporting events and works to make sure all of his students and staff feel valued.

“Every day he goes on the announcements and either compliments specific students who did well or sports teams,” Aarya Potti, the tiger roar president of the Chapel Hill High School student government, said. “He’s just very present and you can tell that he cares about the students and community.”

At Guy B. Phillips Middle School, Tiffany Cheshire said she is the newly appointed principal after serving as the assistant principal for five years. Her previous experience working at the school helps her connect with staff and students.

“The fact that I get to work with teachers from all different backgrounds, all different departments, all different experiences — that was really exciting for me,” Cheshire said. “When this position came open, I felt really excited about the opportunity.”

After five years as assistant principal, Cheshire knows a lot of the parents in the school’s community, so she said it has been helpful to be a familiar resource to families during times of change.

Cheshire also works alongside two assistant principals, Glenn Estacio and Shanice Harrington. She said they help round her out and, while the partnership among them is new, she is thankful to work with people who have the same outlook on success.

“I've had a chance to work with several great leaders and I already count her among those,” Estacio said. “I think she's one of the first ones where I feel like she distributes leadership really well.”

Frank Porter Graham Elementary School is a dual language school for children from households that predominantly speak Spanish, as well as English native speakers. Students are taught in a bilingual learning environment.

“Our entire school is a two-way immersion program,” Kat Rangel, assistant principal of the school, said. “In kindergarten and first grade, about 90 percent of the day is in Spanish and 10 percent in English. And then starting in second grade, 50 percent of the day is in English and 50 percent of the day is in Spanish.”

Rangel said Karen Galassi-Ferrer, the current principal of the school, has a unique job as an administrator in a nontraditional learning environment. 

She added the curriculum follows state guidelines for public elementary school coursework, though Galassi-Ferrer works to, both literally and figuratively, translate those expectations to fit into a bilingual environment.

The elementary school also is celebrating its 10th year as a fully bilingual school. Before becoming an administrator, Galassi-Ferrer was a Spanish teacher, according to the school’s website. 

“She’s passionate about language learning,” Rangel said. “She has a really clear vision as to what dual language should look like at an elementary school.”

@DTHCityState | 

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