Paul Williams describes himself as energetic and enthusiastic – the perfect fit for a school with a community reputation that ranks low among neighboring schools and that has low teacher morale. But as Williams, 34, steps into the role as principal, he’s got only one rallying cry: bring back the McClintock magic.
Williams started his new principal position at McClintock Middle in early July, and over the past month he’s been meeting with teachers, students and parents, listening to their ideas, concerns and questions. He’s sent out a survey to staff and met with many of his students through the Freedom School program.
“I sent out the survey, just asking how to improve staff morale and they’ve been real candid,” he said. “It allowed me the opportunity to get in their heads before making changes; really getting a feeling where they are at. It’s allowed me the opportunity to really understand where everybody is at and get some input on decisions I have to make before school starts.”
Williams graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a masters in administration and from Greensboro College with a bachelors in elementary education.
He decided to go into education because of the teacher and coach role models he’s had throughout his life. With a kindergarten teacher for a step mom, remarkable track/cross country and basketball coaches and various leadership and mentoring roles throughout his high school and college career, Williams said the decision to become a teacher was an easy one because he is so passionate.
“My family wasn’t too keen on the idea of me becoming a teacher because of the pay, but at the same time they saw how passionate I was about it,” he said.
He started his career in Guilford County Schools where he taught kindergarten and third-grade at Pleasant Garden Elementary School. After moving to Charlotte, he taught fifth-grade at Smithfield Elementary in south Charlotte, becoming assistant principal at Dilworth Elementary in 2006. He was then part of the strategically staffed team at Ashley Park Elementary as assistant principal before taking the principal position at Wingate Park Elementary School.
McClintock will be his first run at middle school, but Williams says he’s excited for the challenge.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m a huge sports fan and I’m always looking for a new challenge. We have a new school building opening up and extreme school support. It’s going to be really nice to work with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.”
Some of Williams’ top priorities include changing attitudes and perceptions about the school, as well as recruiting neighborhood students who may have opted for private, charter schools or neighboring Randolph IB Middle.
“It’s going to be great to not only recruit families back, but teachers. When you have an old building with leaks – we don’t have wireless (Internet) – that becomes a challenge because we are not state of the art,” Williams said. “It will be great to say ‘We are state of the art.’ That becomes very attractive, especially if you live in a neighborhood where you can walk to school.”
But until then, Williams said it’s vital that his staff is excited to come to work everyday. He wants them to feel energized, something he calls one of his biggest strengths. He’s already got a few tricks up his sleeve with plans of staff appreciation activities and a team-building field trip to Camp Thunderbird before school starts.
“Getting people excited about coming to work everyday really is one of my strengths,” Williams said. “I’m the new guy. They’re going to be looking to me for what’s next but I’m there serving them. It’s going to be important for me to work and communicate with them on a consistent level.”
For Williams, good communication is as simple as learning everyone’s name before school starts later this month, even digging deeper and learning what makes each teacher tick. And on the flipside, Williams hopes to give his staff a look into who he really is, too. The Redskins fan and his wife Lorie have a 2-year-old daughter named Piper.
He is an avid runner, and sports fanatic who just loves hanging out with his family.
Morgan Smith, email@example.com