Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.
Pam Wood never planned on becoming an elementary school principal. In fact, the former banker said she didn’t realize teaching was her calling until she stumbled upon her passion for education as a Sunday school teacher.
But the former Freshman Academy principal at Gainesville High School finds her new job as principal of New Holland Core Knowledge Academy suits her well.
“I had no idea this would be something I’d be interested in, but it’s fun. The children are sweet and the teachers are so dedicated,” she said. “(Elementary schoolers) are so enthusiastic about school. They want to learn.”
When former principal Jill Goforth announced her retirement from New Holland last spring, Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer asked Wood if she had ever considered becoming an elementary principal. Wood had taught social studies in a Forsyth County middle school for 12 years and was an assistant principal at Riverview Middle School in Dawson county for four years and recently served as a high school administrator.
Elementary schools had been uncharted territory for her until now.
She said she believes her experience in middle and high school helps her to be a better elementary educator.
“I love the fact that I’ve seen all three,” she said. “My philosophy is (educate) the whole child. We want to play. We want to color. But we’ve got to make sure we give them a solid foundation so that they don’t struggle on down the road. We’re working very hard academically, but we’re also trying to incorporate things to make school fun.”
Wood said she is trying to bring more speakers to the school and to create special programs for fifth-graders.
“It’s a rite of passage. They need to feel special,” she said.
Wood said this year the school has started a student parliament for fifth grade as well as a safety patrol unit. Fifth-graders also get to make morning announcements.
Wood, a Forsyth native, said she married her high school sweetheart and has two grown children. She said she is grateful for the way the New Holland community has welcomed her, and looks forward to helping students learn to love school while building a foundation for success.