Anthony Hatchell and Eddie Oakley are high school principals in the Shelby County school district who combined have nearly 60 years of experience in education.
Oakley has been principal at Shelby County High School the past three years after coming to the district from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County). Hatchell became principal at Martha Layne Collins High School when the school opened two years ago. He previously served as principal at Mayfield High School (Mayfield Independent).
The two principals make a really good team, according to Superintendent James Neihof. They worked well together to alleviate concerns the Shelbyville
community had when the district began the process of splitting up Shelby County High to form Collins High in 2010.
They also worked “to develop relationships with staff so a balanced transition could occur when the transfers were made the next year,” Neihof said.
Hatchell and Oakley also “teamed up to develop the Accelerated Academy for 2011-12 high-achieving freshmen,” he added.
“Mr. Oakley, the staff members of both schools and I have worked closely to ensure that our curriculum and instruction are on the same page,” said Hatchell, who will retire at the end of the 2011-12 school year. “There have been continual efforts to have closely related schedules and class offerings. The staff members of both schools, and all the schools in the Shelby County school district, have worked diligently to have common curriculum, aligned standards, assessments and goals. We are a school district, with all schools supporting each other, with common goals and an urgency for the highest level of student achievement.”
“Mr. Hatchell and I know the importance of working together,” Oakley said. “While we have regular professional learning communities (PLCs) at our schools, we join together about four times per year for district PLCs, or DPLCs, where our teachers work together to create common summative and formative assessments. This process has formed collegial bonds where teachers in the same content area communicate across the two schools on other test questions and unit activities throughout the year.”
Like Hatchell, Oakley believes setting the right example is critical in properly leading a school district.
“I know that my focus on relationships with students and teachers is first and foremost what makes me a strong leader. I always tell teachers that ‘students won’t show you how much they know until they know how much you care,’ but the same really applies for adults,” Oakley said. “My teachers need to know how much I care about them, our students and our school so that they can stay focused on what matters.
“My most important role as an instructional leader is to help teachers stay focused on what’s important by keeping initiatives few,” Oakley said. “This is especially important with the adoption and implementation of new standards and a new accountability system.”
Hatchell said that an effective leader is someone who is able to implement the changes that routinely happen as schools move through changes in accountability and assessment, reductions in funding and legislation.
“As we have ventured through our second year of existence at Collins High School, there is an importance of focusing clearly on our particular needs of student achievement as it relates to the changes that we are going through,” he said. “In my situation, I have been able to focus on college- and career-readiness. I am extremely fortunate to be working with building administrators who have taken on roles as instructional leaders with a focus on areas of student achievement that support our ultimate goal of college- and career-readiness.
“Consideration for changes has to be prioritized in a school so that clear focus is evident,” Hatchell added. “I believe we have done our part at Collins High School to address needs and relieve our teachers of a certain amount of the burden with appropriate communication and support which allows their efforts to focus on individual student achievement and the effective instruction needed for that to take place.”
Both principals actively collaborate outside their district, too. Oakley serves on the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative Instructional Leadership Network, and Hatchell serves on the boards for both the Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky Association of Secondary School Principals.