After narrowly missing out on her first chance to be a Hall County elementary school principal, Jennifer Deaton didn’t have to wait long for a second opportunity.
Deaton was named principal of Sugar Hill Elementary during a Hall County School District school board meeting on Monday. She will assume her new position on June 1.
The appointment comes mere weeks after Deaton was nearly assigned to the same role at Myers Elementary, making it all the way to the final round of interviews for the position before it was eventually awarded to Marla Lear.
“Marla and I are very good friends, so it was like two best friends going for the same job,” Deaton said. “And to hear a position at a similar school was opening, which is similar to the job I had applied for at Myers, similar population and size, I couldn’t have asked for a better school to have the opportunity to be a school leader at. I was super excited.”
Deaton’s experience with Hall County schools goes back nearly 25 years when she began work as a counselor at Lula Elementary. She spent 19 years in that role before getting into administration as an assistant principal at Wauka Mountain Elementary in 2015. She was moved to the same job at McEver Arts Academy in 2018, a position that she currently holds.
Deaton said her time spent counseling will give her a leg up as a principal, particularly when it comes to effectively communicating with and understanding the feelings of faculty, students and parents.
“I have that background, that knowledge to deal with stressful situations and talk to parents who might be emotional, deal with teachers who are working as hard as ever and having to use talents that they never even dreamed of,” she said. “I think it’s going to be positive for me to remind everybody to pause, catch your breath and reflect. And those are counselor terminologies.”
Deaton said she will be spending the coming weeks immersing herself in the Sugar Hill Elementary community.
She will be riding school meal delivery buses and sitting in on Zoom meetings between teachers to get a gauge of how Sugar Hill Elementary is dealing with virtual learning.
“Just being able to see faces and hear voices so I can know emotionally where everybody is to begin with,” she said. “I say compassion before curriculum first, and then we’ll worry about what we need to do to tweak the curriculum for next year.”
In an email announcement of Deaton’s appointment sent out by Hall County Schools earlier this week, superintendent Will Schofield highlighted her compassion and ability to form bonds with others, qualities that he believes make Deaton the best person for the job.
“That foundation of building relationships in order that students, teachers, staff and families thrive is critical to school leadership,” Schofield said. “We are excited about the future of Sugar Hill Elementary under her direction.”