Fort Benning, Ga | July 25, 2012
With the new school year right around the corner, Fort Benning welcomes three new principals at Faith Middle School, Dexter Elementary and Stowers Elementary schools.
Scott Sterry, Stowers Elementary School
Scott Sterry comes from Misawa Air Base, Japan where he was principal of Cummings Elementary School. This will be his first stateside position in 25 years.
“I’m excited about being here and the people that I’ve met so far have been very supportive and very helpful,” he said.
From being a military child whose father was in the Army, Sterry said he has a personal connection to the military children of today.
During his first year as principal, he said his goal is to gain the trust of the staff at his school and the community.
“(I want) them to know that I’m going to really stand up for the children that are here,” he said. “And once all of the constituents — the teachers, the staff, the community members — realize that I am committed to that, I think that we can gain or even optimize our successes even more greatly.”
An advocate of teaching the “whole child,” Sterry said it’s the responsibility of educators to ensure children are given the tools needed to be successful.
“It’s our responsibility to teach children to be responsible citizens — to be able to know when to stand up for a moral rightness (and) for what they believe in — a citizenship to honor and trust in the differences of those people around them and to also be able to be good team player,” he said.
Students need to have good social skills, citizenship coupled with a solid academic foundation, he said.
“Doing what’s right and having an ability to work with others will make any child successful — and that’s my philosophy to provide that service to these children at Fort Benning. And I have a very strong commitment to that,” he said.
Ronald Knight, Dexter Elementary School
A 15-year Army veteran, Ronald Knight, said he is fortunate to be principal of a school with military children. “I take it very seriously because I was a military child,” he said. “My dad was in the Air Force and I went to (Department of Defense) schools.”
His own two children also attended Department of Defense Education Activity schools, he said.
“I believe that school should be a fun place, but it’s also a place where you need to put your nose to the grindstone, too, because education is going to help you with your goals,” Knight said. “It’s also a place where you develop kids — their character and how they socialize with other people.”
Knight said his focus is to ensure students are getting the education they need and to support the teachers to accomplish that task.
“(School is) a microcosm of what life is like on the outside, so kids have to learn how to get along with each other, how to be respectful, and overall, I believe a child should feel like they are loved — that you love them,” he said.
Knight said he is humbled to help shape the children of military members who serve the country. Many have the unique experience of having one or more parents deployed.
“I think it’s very important for them to know that their kids are getting what they need education-wise and also that there is somebody here that loves them and cares for them while they are deployed,” he said. “I think that takes a lot off their mind.”
Daniel Perkins, Faith Middle School
Last year, Daniel Perkins, a retired Navy veteran, was the assistant principal at Faith Middle School. Now as principal, he wants to reinforce a positive culture at the school.
“Student achievement is our primary goal, but I think happy kids and kids that are actively engaged are going to be learners,” he said. “And so my goal is to improve the general climate of the school — help us be good community members and increase our student achievement.”
He said he believes education should involve knowing the practical application behind why a student is learning a particular subject matter.
“I want to steer as much of the learning as we can toward real-world applications so the kids don’t ask, ‘Why are we learning this?’” Perkins said. “They are actually learning things by using these skills … I think that if we can’t tell kids why we are doing something, we really need to ask ourselves, ‘Why are we doing that?’ We need to show them how they can use (what they’ve learned).”
One way to give children hands-on experience is with the use of technology — “pushing forward into the 21st century” with programs currently implemented at Faith, such as giving every student a laptop — to keep students engaged,” Perkins said.
Although some may think middle school students can be a handful, he said, no matter what, they are still good kids.
“We as educators need to remember that when there may be some behaviors that we don’t like — the kids are still good kids and … if we take that approach then it’s all good,” he said. “But we do have a bunch of really good kids here. This is a good place to be.”
Students on post go back to school Aug. 7. For more about the schools, visit www.am.dodea.edu/benning.