Principal of the Year Highlights accomplishments and future plans at Belville Elementary
By Linsey Trask
Joyce Beatty, principal of Belville Elementary School and the 2006-2007 Brunswick County Principal of the Year, shies away from the spotlight. Instead, she credits her success to the hard work and cooperation of her staff.
“I have the best staff in the world,” she says. “Each time I add new staff, I make sure they know our history—(the) hard work and eventual change of attitude that has helped us become more cohesive in order to do what is best for children.”
Beatty was recognized as Principal of the Year at a luncheon hosted by Communities in Schools on November 3, 2006. One of Beatty’s achievements as principal has been in improving Belville’s state reading test scores. Through the implementation of a reading program called Direct Instruction, which is part of the district’s plan for improvement, Belville Elementary has seen growth in 2005-2006.
The program was even more successful in 2006-2007. State requirements on the reading test for 2004-2005 were 76.7 percent, and Belville made 73.6 percent. However, in 2005-2006, Belville reached 81.6 percent. Beatty is quick to point out that the improvements are a direct result of both her team’s and her student’s hard work. “The student progress was evident, and teachers knew that if we followed procedure we would continue to see progress,” she says.
“Our reading for 2006-2007 was evident of the team/student effort.” Beatty again looks to her staff as being the catalyst for continued improvements.
“A huge positive for Belville has been bringing on board staff that are willing to buy into the vision of the school and district,” she says. “I encourage and believe that every student deserves a fresh start; strong, well planned instruction; and a risk-free environment in which to learn and apply what is being taught.”
Beatty is conscious of the fact that in order for the school’s programs to be considered successful, they need tools to measure student success. “In our world of accountability, data is everything,” she says. “We plan to focus more on the monitoring of student data so that we will see readily when students are not progressing.
There will be dialog about reasons for the academic decline and strategies to help get the students back on track.” She also understands the difficulties students may face outside of school that affect their academic performance. When faced with these external challenges, she says, “We do our best to connect parents/guardians with appropriate services if they are willing.” Other plans for the future include pushing for more community involvement in the school. “We want our community involved,” Beatty says. “We need them, but most of all, our children need them.” Beatty says that the guidelines for the volunteer process, which are in place to ensure appropriate services and student contact, sometimes deter participants. These guidelines require volunteers to attend training and undergo a background check to work with students. But Beatty says volunteers should not be discouraged by the guidelines, as the end result is what matters most.
Even an hour of volunteer work “can be a blessing to a child,” she says. She adds that the school will work with the busy schedules of potential volunteers.
To assist with bringing more volunteers into the school, Belville Elementary has a new community liaison, Lorie Heath, who will serve as Parent Facilitator. As part of Belville’s push for more community involvement, Beatty also seeks partnerships with local businesses to “provide incentives for both staff and students.”
Again she stresses flexibility. “Partners decide how they can and want to support our school,” she says. Beatty attended North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., where she received her Bachelor’s degree with a Major in Commerce and a Minor in Education. She received her Master’s degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Her career began in New Hanover County Schools at Roland-Grise Middle School, and she eventually ended up at New Hanover High School. She was recruited to Brunswick County Schools as an assistant principal at Shallotte Middle School. She was then transferred to Leland Middle and worked there as an assistant principal for two years. At the beginning of her third year, she was appointed principal of Belville Elementary, which she calls “a huge honor.”
Beatty, who lives in Leland with her husband, Gerald, looks forward to continued success at Belville Elementary. “I love my job and look forward to going to work each day,” she says. “The children keep me energized and excited about education.