New principal wants to make a difference

Published 9:12 pm Monday, December 27, 2010

Temesha Dabney

Temesha Dabney, center, the new principal at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, poses with the school's new Teacher of the Year, Chinyere Daniel, and Daniel's kindergarten class.

At a young age, Temesha Dabney already knew that she could best impact the world as an educator.

As Dabney begins her career as the new principal of Booker T. Washington Elementary School, she reflects on how positive influences in her life and hard work have helped her to fulfill her dream.

Dabney, former vice principal of Booker T. Washington Elementary School, was officially named principal on Dec. 10 after former principal Patricia Montgomery announced her retirement.

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Dabney began her teaching career in her hometown of Portsmouth, where she taught at Douglass Park Elementary for five years before coming to Suffolk Public Schools. She then taught at Driver Elementary School for three years before becoming the assistant principal at Booker T. Washington.

When Dabney began her career as assistant principal, she set a goal of one day becoming principal.

“I saw the duties [administrators] performed and the outcome and I knew that I too wanted to be that leader,” Dabney said.

Dabney has been unofficially performing the duties of principal since the middle of June, when Montgomery took leave to recover from a car accident.

Dabney credits Montgomery with helping to prepare her to become principal of Booker T. Washington,

“She taught me a great deal to prepare me,” Dabney said. “We not only had a great relationship, but she also taught me how to be a great leader as she was. She always offered me encouragement.”

Dabney’s parents and former teachers also deserve credit, she said.

“My parents instilled in me the need to get a good education and do well in school,” Dabney said. “I hope to instill those beliefs into the lives of children,”

As for her teachers, “I could see that my teachers gave their all,” Dabney said, “I looked up to them and saw the great impact they had on students and myself, and I wanted to do the same for other children.”

As an elementary school educator, Dabney hopes to make a positive impact on her elementary school students in the same way that her childhood role models impacted her,
“Elementary school children are more impressionable,” she said. “We are better able to influence them on a positive level. They need to be exposed to positive role models early in life to become good citizens. The elementary setting is where students get a foundation.”

Dabney names Chanel Bryant, principal of Driver Elementary, and Nancy Harrell, current principal of Southwestern Elementary School and formerly of Driver Elementary, as among her influences.

“I learned a lot from working under their leadership,” Dabney said.

Dabney is enthusiastically accepting the role of principal at Booker T. Washington.

“I was honored to be able to remain at Booker T. Washington,” she said. “It goes back to the great faculty and staff. The teachers go beyond what is expected of them to make sure all of the students learn. We also have very smart and lovable students here.”

“I’m excited and willing to accept the challenge of continuing to make Booker T. the awesome school that it is,” Dabney said, “I’m already familiar with the strengths. I also know what areas we may need to improve, giving me kind of a jump start.”