Thrift returning to Suffolk schools

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Newport News school principal is making his return to Suffolk this fall.

Riverside Elementary School principal Bryan Thrift was named the new principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School at the June 8 meeting of the Suffolk School Board. He will assume the role on July 1, following John F. Kennedy principal Vivian Covington’s upcoming retirement.

Thrift said he was excited to come back to Suffolk and work alongside administrative staff he knows from his previous years in Suffolk.

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“They’re extremely smart folks,” he said. “The opportunity to work with them and build on that is very exciting to me.”

Bryan Thrift, principal of Riverside Elementary School in Newport News, will become the principal of Suffolk’s John F. Kennedy Middle School this July.

He first became an assistant principal in 2009 for Isle of Wight County Public Schools, before assuming that same position at King’s Fork High School in 2013 for two years.

His career began in 2002 with seven years of special education teaching between Hanover, Northumberland and Smithfield schools. He said those years taught him the importance of connecting with students.

“It taught me that I had to build relationships with students, and they had to trust me in order to teach them something,” he said.

His approach also incorporates his years of experience coaching baseball and football, along with his own experiences on sports teams.

“I think sports is part of the reason I was successful,” he said. “It taught me that success doesn’t come on the back of one person. It’s a team effort, and everybody has got to do their part.”

The challenge of coming to a new school environment, building relationships with the students and staff, and learning how to improve the school’s performance was appealing, he said.

“I like peeling back layers and understanding what’s going on,” he said.

Part of this process is improving the school’s test scores, but it doesn’t stop there.

“Education is about moving students and building relationships to make them lifelong learners and productive citizens,” Thrift said.

Every child can learn, he said, and all it takes is finding the motivation for them to succeed.

“I’m very excited about going to JFK,” he said.