A long line of teachers and mentors inspired Brian Slattery, the new principal at Endhaven Elementary, to go into education.
He saw importance for quality educators and the need for “people, not programs.” That’s what drew him to the field – the opportunity to be a great role model for students.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that because I had great teachers growing up,” Slattery said. “They were great role models. I knew I wanted to be that.”
Slattery has been on the job at Endhaven since July 1, his first run as principal and his first gig in the Ballantyne area, after serving as assistant principal at Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School near uptown Charlotte for six years. He originally started his undergraduate work at Roberts Wesleyan College in New York as a high school business teacher. But after a scheduling mistake, he spent time in a second grade classroom for his first clinical discovering elementary education was his passion.
After graduating, he moved to Charlotte for work, starting at Nathaniel Alexander Elementary School teaching literacy and working with kindergarten through sixth-graders. He moved to Hidden Valley Elementary and then Greenway Park Elementary as a fourth-grade teacher where he eventually met his wife, Katie, then a first-grade teacher at the same school.
“We had a great principal there, Dan Whitt, who was more like a mentor. He told us about an abroad program in Germany,” Slattery said. Together, the newlywed couple applied and were accepted to the overseas program on a military base. Slattery worked as a special education resource teacher, based on his master’s work from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in special education, also while working with third, fourth and fifth grade.
But Charlotte was always home, Slattery said. After the birth of their first child and four years on base, the small family moved back stateside. He worked as a fifth-grade teacher at Highland Renaissance School for two years, while also earning his add-on certification in school administration from UNC Charlotte.
“Previously, I would have said no way would I be an administrator,” Slattery said. “But I saw the need. I had worked for fabulous principals and I worked for some who could have done a better job. I thought, ‘I could do that.’”
Slattery said his experience as assistant principal at Elizabeth Traditional has prepared him for leadership at Endhaven. Having worked side-by-side Elizabeth Traditional’s principal, he learned to become a true leader, he said.
Now, he’s “hit the ground listening,” he said, learning about the norms, history, accomplishments and positive programs at Endhaven. He’s already held some informal meetings with parents and staff and is excited for the school’s Aug. 22 open house event, the first time he’ll have the chance to meet and greet students at the school.
“I’m excited to see the kids. You can look at numbers and names, but it doesn’t mean anything until you see their faces,” Slattery said. “And I’m excited to see the teachers in action.”
Right now, Slattery is working to ensure the school is completely staffed before kids hit the classroom Aug. 26. The most important part of his new job is to hire quality teachers, a lot like his favorite teacher from high school, Mr. Donnelly – Slattery’s social studies teacher and basketball coach whose best quality was building relationships with students, he said.
“That’s the quality of teachers I look for today. He’s just the type of person that when you were in his class, you knew he was on your side,” Slattery said. “As a principal, the biggest and most important job is to make the best hires possible and retain those great teachers.”