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'Building relationships is always first': Meet three CHCCS principals

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Smith Middle School, as pictured on Aug. 26, 2022. 

Every October, communities celebrate principals and their devotion to students for National Principals Month. 

The Daily Tar Heel spoke to three Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools principals to learn more about their experiences, goals and struggles.

Smith Middle School principal

Pamela McAllister is the principal of Smith Middle School and has worked in this role for just over two years. 

She said her job is to facilitate instructional leadership and ensure students get what they need socially and emotionally to set up student success.

“We recently opened our family room and resource center to support our families and to build a bridge between our communities and our school,” she said.

She also said this work was inspired by a family needs survey that was sent to both students and families to ask where support was needed.

“My ultimate goal is to make sure that every student and their families feel like they are part of the Smith community," McAllister said. "Any work that we can do to help build that family and community engagement and involvement, I think that will help us make progress towards that goal."

She said she appreciates all the support she has received from CHCCS, which she said allows her to be the best administrator possible for both teachers and students. 

Ephesus Elementary School principal

Stacie Boyer, the principal of Ephesus Elementary School, said one thing that has remained important to her during her time at CHCCS has been making sure she is building relationships with every student who walks into the building.

“Every approach that we take from every discipline issue, or in a struggle with a peer, we take out from a lens of, 'This is a skill deficit that a kid is having, and how can we work with that student to build that skill?'” she said.

Boyer said before administrators can make a meaningful impact on students' lives, those students need to trust the administrator and know that they care.

“You're gonna get far more return on investment from kids if they know that you are there for them, that you're going to lovingly hold them accountable for their work, but also be there to support them if they can't quite get there right away," she said.

Boyer said her personal goal is that students and parents remember her as a principal who made their voices heard, that she made students feel safe and loved and that they came to school with a love of learning. 

“So building relationships is always first and foremost, and then the academics piece is right there in a close second," she said.

UNC Hospital School principal 

Marny Ruben is the principal of CHCCS' Pre-K-12 UNC Hospital School, which provides classes for children at UNC's Children's Hospital.

She said she plans to start incorporating more STEM and technology-based learning to expose students from different areas to the subject and to make engineering and science more accessible.

“One of our goals is to provide them with joy," she said. "So, finding activities that they really love to do, finding topics that they're very interested in, hands-on experiences as well as their schoolwork that they have from their traditional school."

Ruben said UNC Hospital School administrators want to keep students up to date on grades, assignments and projects so that when students get back to their original school they will not be behind.

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Educators in the hospital school are committed to the children there, providing services to them during hard times, she said.

“As a principal, I'm just honored to serve the teachers that are able to do that and bring joy to children and families and normalcy during some of their hardest times," she said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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