By Meg Dickens
Statistically, women are far more likely to be teachers, but men are more likely to hold positions of power. Johnson County is an outlier with an overwhelming majority of women in charge of local schools.
As of now, 81 percent of current principals and assistant principals are women. According to local principals, men are relatively scarce in this field. Local elementary schools reportedly average two male teachers or less while higher levels of education are closer with an average of 45 percent male teachers. Mountain City Elementary is about to experience a school year with no permanent male teachers on the roster.
There are many aspects of these jobs that outsiders do not understand. Principals and assistant principals deal with much more than just attendance, parental interference, and discipline. Teachers must adapt quickly to change. Whether it is an altered state policy, standardized test changes or specialized training to learn to better protect their charges. It is a stressful job, but our principals and assistant principals take on the pressure beautifully. It is time to look at the women who take care of our children.
Lisa Throop is the principal at Johnson County High School. She has 29 years invested in education and has held the position of principal for 25 years. Despite being involved for so many years, Throop continues to “love every minute of it.” She particularly enjoys watching the kids grow and mature. “I have been in education this long because I make every decision with the students in mind,” Throop explained. “That is the only way to make it in education.”
Mechelle Arney is the assistant principal at Johnson County Middle School. 22 years in education taught her the importance of being flexible and well rounded. Arney handles testing, athletics, and after-school programs in addition to her other duties. “No two days are alike,” Arney mused. “That definitely makes things interesting.” She believes that the Golden Rule is the key to success.
Gay Triplett is the principal of Mountain City Elementary. She began as a substitute and advanced through the ranks. Triplett has been with the school system for the last 16 years. “It’s hard work, but you enjoy it,” Triplett said. “Education is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Her main obstacle in transitioning between teacher and principal was losing one-on-one time with students. She insisted on continuing to teach before agreeing to the promotion. “Why would you change when you love something?” Triplett asked.
Mary Ann Robinson is the assistant principal of Mountain City Elementary. She has been in education for the last 23 years. Robinson enjoys helping teachers find new and innovative ways to breathe new life into the classroom. “I have a love for students and learning,” Robinson stated. “That’s because I had fabulous teachers who instilled that love for learning in me at a very young age.”
Jessie Laing is the assistant principal of Roan Creek Elementary. In her nearly 22 years of experience, Laing discovered that time is the enemy and the calendar is your best friend. It is a juggling act but “a blessing to see the daily accomplishments of the students.” Laing looks at the big picture and helps others do the same.
Dana Smith is the principal of Shady Valley Elementary. She was a beloved teacher and coach at Johnson County High School for 31 years before becoming a principal in 2016. Smith embraced the new challenges that came with becoming a principal at a small school. “It’s something that I really want to do,” Smith said. Smith uses her wealth of knowledge to help her students reach their full potential and to make Shady a great place to learn.
Brenda Eggers is the principal of Laurel Elementary who is joining the ranks in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. She did not wish to comment on the subject except to say that she did not feel like she could give constructive information at this point. Teresa Stansberry of Doe Elementary and Cheri Long of Roan Creek Elementary also chose not to comment.
These women work hard because they genuinely care about their students. In the process, they became strong role models for students and potential educators alike. These women offer advice for prospective teachers and principals; this job is not easy, but it is definitely worth it. Just make sure you understand what it entails.