Leigh new Huskies principal

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

The city’s 14th elementary school opened its doors on Tuesday, with principal Ronald Leigh at the helm.

“The challenge now is creating a routine for your building, setting expectations,” Leigh said last week, before the students took over the new school.

Leigh has been involved in school administration for quite a while; however, this is the first time he’s ever opened up a new school.

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“I was really excited,” he said, of the chance to come to Hillpoint. “Very honored.”

Leigh has been in Suffolk Public Schools since 2000 in a number of capacities before his move to Hillpoint. He was at the head of Mack Benn Elementary School until last December, and was at Robertson Elementary before that. However, this isn’t completely new for him, he said – several of his teachers at Hillpoint have worked with him before, and he’s delighted by that.

“All the success I’ve ever had is because I’ve had great staffs,” he said.

Despite that fact, Leigh said this is a new school.

“This will be Hillpoint, it won’t be Mack Benn or Robertson,” he said.

Leigh grew up in Currituck County, N.C. It wasn’t until college that he realized he wanted to go into education.

“Once I got to college, I really realized I loved history,” he said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can get other people to love history like I loved it.”

The rest is history. Leigh attended Elizabeth City State University on football and academic scholarships. He moved on from there and got his master’s degree at East Carolina University and his advanced studies degree at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He currently is working on receiving his doctorate level degree from Virginia Tech.

Leigh said he loves the principal position – especially in a new school – because he gets to create the atmosphere.

“I have always liked the idea that I could set the pace for the whole building,” he said. “I could create an atmosphere where everybody was relaxed.”

Although the school faces the challenge of obtaining accreditation for the first time this year, Leigh said he doesn’t want to take the fun out of teaching or learning.

“It’s very stressful,” he said, “and it makes it stressful for the kids. You gotta think about the kids first.”

However, Leigh said he will not make any excuses if the school fails to meet the mark this year. Simply chalking it up to the first school year won’t do it for him, he said.

“I want to be held accountable,” he said. “There will be no excuses.”