Thursday, August 22, 2013
Allison DeYoung knew it was meant to be when she stepped into a classroom to teach for the first time.
After growing up in Chattanooga and graduating from and working as an admissions counselor at Carson Newman College, she had accepted an opportunity to teach third-graders at a school in North Carolina. Two generations of her family before her worked in the education field, but that was DeYoung’s first teaching experience.
“When I walked into that classroom, it just changed my life,” she said. “I knew that was where I needed to be. I love children; I love working with the community, with the parents.”
Now, as a first-time principal at Ganns Middle Valley Elementary, she said she is excited to be leading in a time of such crucial change in the teaching profession, especially with the adoption of Common Core Standards.
“To think I’m one of 75 leaders in [Hamilton] County and my role is to impact the lives of 600 students at Ganns Middle Valley … I’m here at such a crucial time that I have the responsibility to implement these changes,” DeYoung said. “I get excited that I get to lead that … leading us toward progress, a new day in public education.”
Something she views as extremely important as well as a huge challenge is supporting her teaching staff through the changes.
“I think the county’s doing an excellent job of providing that support, but I also think it’s important for principals to be instructional leaders,” said DeYoung. “When you start changing the way you provide instruction, it’s a huge shift to make. Teachers have got to have support and they have to have it daily.”
After teaching in North Carolina, DeYoung taught in Marion County before moving to Ooltewah Elementary School for seven years, where she taught fifth-graders. She was then an assistant principal at Apison Elementary for two years before accepting the job as principal of Ganns Middle Valley.
In addition to improving math scores and inspiring the students to learn creatively, one of DeYoung’s biggest goals for her students this year is to improve their reading ability.
“We are really going to focus on literacy — that every child in this building is reading on grade level,” she said. “Reading is foundational to everything else.”