Principals welcome school year with new energy
Wednesday, September 08, 2010 4:31 AM
Seattle Public Schools are opening up this week, with a few new faces in the hallways.
Cashel Toner, of Leschi Elementary School.
Many students at Leschi Elementary School will recognize principal Cashel Toner from last year, while McGilvra Elementary and Madrona K-8 schools will welcome Mary Lane and Farah Thaxton, respectively.
Each of the educators come from different backgrounds, but each shares a desire to ensure every single student in their classrooms is successful this year.
This fall will be Toner’s second year as principal at Leschi. She is excited about the new academic additions this year.
This summer, Leschi staff were trained by partners from Columbia University of New York in the latest research on reading instruction, which will be implemented into Leschi’s curriculum this year.
Also, co-teaching, or having two educators, during math classes will be a different form of teaching that students will see in their classrooms.
Leschi is one of three Seattle elementary schools (including Graham Hill and Daniel Bagley) that offer both Contemporary and Montessori educational programs for students. Toner has spent 10 years as a contemporary teacher in Seattle schools.
Toner said she enjoys teaching at Leschi for a number of reasons, particularly its emphasis on education of the arts, and how involved and welcoming the community is.
What Toner believes is most important in her position as principal is being clear about her core values. “Children are to be treated with respect and dignity,” she said. “It is paramount to make sure that every child is successful. Everyone has the right to learn, and every one can learn.”
Lane, the new principal to McGilvra Elementary School, began her career as an elementary educator. She became intrigued with how children learn and went back to school to receive her master’s degree in special education.
After working as superintendent deputy for four years in the Dominican Republic and three years at the Shanghai American School in Shanghai, Lane returned to Seattle to become principal of McGilvra.
“I don’t think there is a better time to be in education besides right now,” she said. “There is more research than educators need to teach well, and McGilvra is a wonderful place to use this wealth of information.”
This year, Lane said, more attention will be paid to the individual student at McGilvra, and assessing where that student is vs. where they should be in the curriculum. She explained that it shouldn’t be about getting through the curriculum, but making sure students are in the best possible environment to learn.
Lane is also excited about the new website, set up by the PTA, that will have a blog site for teachers. This blog will allow students to access past and future curriculum, as well as that evening’s assignment.
Thaxton returns to Seattle to become the principal at Madrona after spending the last seven years in Philadelphia, where she worked with seven of the city’s lowest-performing elementary schools.
Thaxton also helped open a charter school back east, where she also served as principal.
This year, Thaxton hopes to work on closing the educational gap: where a student is and where they should be in the standard curriculum. She said the way to do this is to know each student by name and where their abilities are academically.
In the classrooms, small groups will be used to assess where a student is and what can be done to challenge, or bring them up to the same level of their peers, depending on what the individual child needs.
Thaxton said she also wants to prepare her students to find supportive environments outside of the classroom for learning.
“Every student has the right to a good education, to good teachers,” Thaxton said.