Longtime teacher moves into administration

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dana Bilby, right, the new assistant principal at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School, works with school bookkeeper Jeanette Alford to find a solution for a parent who called the school with an issue Tuesday. The position at Mack Benn is the first administrative job for Bilby, who has worked with Suffolk Public Schools for more than 15 years.

After more than 10 years with Suffolk Public Schools, elementary school teacher Dana Bilby is taking on her first administration position as assistant principal at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School.

Bilby said she has always wanted to serve as an administrator, and when the assistant position opened up, she went for it.

“In administration, you never know what the next moment is going to bring,” she said. “The day just goes by so quickly because different things are coming up.”


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She is filling the gap at Mack Benn previously occupied by Steve Smith, who will serve as assistant principal at Booker T. Washington Elementary School this year.

To prepare for the new school year, Bilby said, she will meet with principal Keith Hubbard, who is also new to Mack Benn this year.

“I’m looking forward it,” she said. “I’m going to have to buy a pair of a tennis shoes because I’m going to hit the ground running.”

Bilby, who grew up in Suffolk, has worked for the school division for her entire career, and in that time she’s had quite a tour of Suffolk.

For 10 years, she taught third grade at Booker T. Washington, Northern Shores and Mount Zion elementary schools. She then served as an academic coach at Southwestern, Robertson and Hillpoint elementary schools.

For the past year, she has served as elementary lead teacher in science, which called for her to work with all of the schools.

She said she thinks all the moving around she’s done will serve her well in her new role.

“I feel like I have a suitcase of things that I’m ready to try to be successful as an administrator,” Bilby said. “It’s hard to go to a new school and meet new people, but I feel like it’s been a rewarding experience.”

She said she has spent time at Mack Benn as a lead teacher, and she doesn’t feel like she’s going into her position blindly because she is familiar with the teachers and students.

“I know I’m working with a great group of teachers and students,” she said. “We have the relationships that are built. I don’t feel like the new kid of the block; I feel like I’m going home in a sense.”