DUBLIN — West Bladen High School will soon have a new captain at the helm when current assistant principal Peggy Hester takes a step up her career ladder to replace outgoing principal Wesley Floyd, a change that will take effect July 1.
“I was surprised,” Hester said of hearing of the appointment, “… pleasantly surprised.”
Hester began her career in education by obtaining her master’s degree in social studies education and teaching middle school social studies for five years, after which time she moved to the district office as an instructional technology facilitator, a position she held for nine years. During her time at the central office, she worked on and received an additional master’s degree, this time in administration from UNC-Pembroke.
When an position became available in Bladen County’s Central Office, Hester transferred to that site working in the same capacity. Two years ago, she made the move to administration, securing a position as West Bladen’s assistant principal, and has since earned an educational specialist degree from East Carolina.
As if two master’s degrees and an educational specialist degree — an accomplishment between a master’s and a doctorate — are not enough, Hester plans to further her education by pursuing a doctorate, though holding such a degree is not a requirement for the head of West Bladen.
One of Hester’s first tasks will be to find two assistant principals — one to fill the spot she will vacate, and one to fill the spot left open by Assistant Principal Ann Brown, who is taking over the reins at Booker T. Washington Elementary.
As West Bladen’s leader, Hester has big plans for the school.
“I want to focus on college and career readiness by looking at ACT scores and ACT WorkKeys (a job skills assessment program), and I want to work on advisor / advisee relationships, really strengthening that relationship with the students.”
“Right now,” she elaborated, “teachers meet with students at least monthly and focus on specific goals and skills to make sure they are progressing. I’d like to see the advisors continue in that capacity through all four years the student is in high school.
“As for test scores, I’d like to focus specifically on test taking strategies, because the ACT is a unique test. We’re going to focus, in English class, on writing skills this year and on making a focused effort to prepare for the test. We did some test-taking strategies and remediation already, and saw scores almost double — from 20 to almost 40 — just from the effort we made, so it’s had a huge impact.
“In terms of college readiness, we know there are some areas that still need work — math has been one area, and writing skills need to be worked on as well — but, overall, our students do relatively well in college classes. Our kids are not having issues with being successful in college classes they’re taking while in high school, but we’d like to see test scores improve.”
Ready or not, the responsibility for that falls squarely on Hester’s shoulders now, but she believes she’s ready.
“We’ve got a diamond in the rough here at West,” she said, “and I want to see people reach their expectations. They can expect me to be hands on, a hard worker, and somebody they can count on to lead them to success. I’m excited. It will be a challenge, but it will be good.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.