Washington Primary School is opening the new school year with a new principal. (Darin Reed photo)

Washington School’s New Principal Settles into Role

Washington Primary School is opening the new school year with a new principal. (Darin Reed photo)

September 4, 2018

Excitement abounds at Washington Primary School where a new principal has assumed the mantle of leadership. The youngsters that fill the building’s classrooms love summer vacation, but they also enjoy coming to school each day and learning and playing alongside their friends.

“Washington Primary School is a dynamic and diverse place to learn and work,” said Dr. Michelle Richards, who took over as principal on July 1. “Washington is comprised of educators who are skilled at providing our students with instruction that is tailored to their learning needs. Here at Washington we believe that every child will be placed on a learning trajectory in an environment that is compassionate, inquiry based and empowers everyone to think critically.”

Dr. Richards has been spending plenty of time in the building this summer ironing out behind the scene details so the new school year can get off to a smooth start. Many of the building’s faculty and staff members have stopped in for short chats.

New Washington Primary School Principal Michelle J. Richards with Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky
New Washington Primary School Principal Michelle J. Richards with Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky

“We are looking forward to a successful year in which classrooms and learning spaces will buzz with excitement as students engage in collaborative learning opportunities, small group instruction and independent studies,” Dr. Richards said. “The district is implementing the makerspace initiative. At Washington, children will engage in engineering and technology opportunities in an atmosphere that is fun filled while encouraging inquiry based critical thinking.”

Washington is filled with students from a wide range of backgrounds. It’s impressive how well everyone gets along. The school has a remarkable tradition dating to 1954. During planning and construction phases it was known as Whitson Road Elementary School, taking its name from the road it was built on. Before it opened, the Huntington School Board formally named it in honor of George Washington, the first president of the United States.

“The rich cultures amongst the students, families and staff members at Washington Primary School will be celebrated daily through our learning experiences,” Dr. Richards said. “Children will read, write and explore the many cultures that exist in our school and the world. These opportunities will bring an organic appreciation to the diversity that is Washington. This year we will learn more, work harder and have fun in the process!”

As Washington’s new principal following the retirement of Marsha Neville, it’s only to be expected that Dr. Richards will gradually put her imprint on the school.

“This year we will focus on enriching the learning experiences of every Washington student,” Dr. Richards said. “Our teachers will provide instruction that is tailored to the needs of our students through the implementation of a detailed data driven planning and learning process. We look forward to improving relationships and developing a heightened sense of empathy through the implementation of the Sanford-Harmony social emotional program.”

Collaboration with faculty and parents is vitally important to Dr. Richards. “The Washington Primary School parent engagement program will take shape this year through interactive parent workshops and newsletters,” she said. “This initiative will allow our parents to develop a working knowledge of the learning expectations and goals for the 2018/19 school year. Parents/guardians will be able to support their children at home and continue the conversation of the expectations established at Washington.”

Washington School has always featured very strong parental support for its educational program and the teachers who deliver instruction to students. The school counts among its alumni those who have gone on to achieve success in every possible career field and walk of life

“To the parents of Washington Primary, our children will thrive in an environment that is safe, supportive and caring,” Dr. Richards said. “Every teacher and staff member is compassionate and sensitive to the needs of our students. It is important to me that every student, teacher, parent and staff member is excited to be a part of the Washington family.”

Keeping parents “in the loop” is essential to Dr. Richards. “As parents, you are instrumental in the progress that will take place at Washington,” she said. “To that end, your voice and ideas are welcome. We look forward to your engagement and involvement through our parent engagement program as well as you membership in our Parent Teacher Association.”

As an experienced educator, Dr. Richards is well positioned to lead Washington Primary School, which this year will be home to more than 300 students ranging from kindergarten through third grade.

“I come to you with years of experience as an educator in school systems in which the demographics are multi-cultural and diverse in many aspects,” Dr. Richards said. “It is with this foundation that our children will experience academic success. Our theme for the year is ‘Educate! Enrich! Empower!’ We will learn from one another. We will enrich the lives of one another. We will empower one another. We are one Washington.”