Wellborn Elementary School will welcome Jeanna Chandler as the school’s new principal, stepping into the role after four years as the school’s vice principal. Weaver Elementary School will also welcome a new face in Amber Ray as the school’s vice principal.
Chandler, an Oxford native who graduated from Jacksonville State University with a political science degree, said her first job in education came about by accident. The stay-at-home mom said she went to Oxford High School to find out if the school needed secretarial help and was told the school really needed a special education teacher.
“I started the next day,” Chandler said. “But it was a good fit.”
Joe Dyar, superintendent of Calhoun County Schools, said Chandler was a great fit as assistant principal at Wellborn and the transition should be smooth.
“She has been fantastic for four years, and she’ll continue to help Wellborn grow,” Dyar said.
Chandler said she’s looking forward to running Wellborn in her own way, and hopes to get the school more involved in the community and offer more leadership opportunities for students.
“Doug O’Dell did an amazing job, and I hope to continue that tradition,” Chandler said of her predecessor, who now works as assistant director of transportation for Calhoun County Schools. “But I also hope to add my own personal touches.”
Unlike Chandler’s established presence at Wellborn, Ray might be a new face in the halls of Weaver Elementary School, but she’s hardly a stranger to the community.
“It’s like coming back home,” said the school’s new vice principal, who after teaching at White Plains Elementary School since 2004 will return to the town where she grew up.
Although she taught for a year in Georgia, Ray has spent most of her life in Calhoun County and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education at Jacksonville State University. She said the familiarity will help her remember her roots as she takes on a new role as administrator.
“It’s about not forgetting where I came from,” Ray said. “Understanding the needs of the teachers as well as the children in the classrooms.”
Though the start of the school year is still more than a week away, Weaver Elementary Principal Summer Davis said Ray has hit the ground running in her new job.
“She’s a go-getter, for sure,” Davis said. “She’s taken the initiative to get things done before we even knew it had to be done.”
Ray said the leap from teaching to the vice principal’s desk is about making a difference to more students.
“I’m looking forward to making a bigger impact, not just in my classroom but to the whole school,” Ray said. “It’s not just 30 kids, it’s 600-plus.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.