by Morgan Smith
Patricia Denny comes from a long line of educators.
Growing up in a family where there was a “high expectation of learning,” with everything from classical guitar to artwork, the choice to make a career in education seemed easy, she said. Following in her great-grandfather’s footsteps by becoming a school administrator was an even easier decision, the new principal at Rama Road Elementary School said.
“I am most excited just about the potential of the students and the teachers,” Denny said about her new home away from home. “I’ve already observed they take learning very seriously.”
Denny was approved for the principal position at the Dec. 13 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education meeting. She was at work by 7 a.m. the very next morning.
“I have already been on morning announcements and been in and out of the classrooms,” she said before the Christmas break. She also addressed parents and teachers through an introduction letter, which can be found on the school’s website, and met with the school’s parent-teacher association president.
Denny, a true Charlotte native, is National Board Certified and received her bachelor’s degree in early education and a master’s in school administration as a N.C. Principal Fellow, both from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Denny started her career in the district as a teacher in 1994 at Lebanon Road Elementary School, working her way to assistant principal at Jay M. Robinson Middle School, in south Charlotte. Most recently, Denny was a support coordinator for curriculum with the district’s Central Secondary Zone office.
“I am very passionate about every student being able to have the opportunity to have the most affective learning possible – it’s our job as educators to make sure students’ full potential is reached,” Denny said.
Denny said she has plenty of ideas to bring to Rama Road, but for now, she is in an “information gathering stage.”
“Coming back from the break, I want to hit the ground running,” she said. “I really want to work on creating a culture of building relationships within the staff.” Denny also said the staff, parents and community all have a stake in the students’ learning process and it’s important the school fosters those relationships.
“We need to build a level of academic excellence in the community – make sure as a team we are creating a nourishing and challenging environment,” and help the students become “responsible members of society,” she said.
Denny also wants to put a large emphasis on improving literacy scores at the school, building on programs such as Accelerated Reader and literacy workshops and incorporating more technology in the classroom through the use of smart boards. She said growing the technology aspect of the program is vitally important, as well.
“I want to make sure the students are ready to move on to middle school and eventually be college bound,” Denny said.
As for now, Denny is making the adjustment back to elementary school.
“They’re still kids – I think the difference is in the focus on instruction,” she said. “I’ve worked in middle school and high school… I think we have a huge opportunity in elementary to give them a start to success.”