Deborah Chadwick always knew she wanted to be a teacher. So when it came time to actually become a teacher, Chadwick couldn't imagine working anywhere else other than her hometown. In her 39th year as an educator, Chadwick has recently been promoted from associate principal to principal of Clayton Elementary to fill the position left vacant by retired principal Mike Dulin.

Chadwick recently took a few minutes to talk about her desire to be a teacher and how she feels to be the new principal at Clayton Elementary.

Q Why did you apply for the Clayton Elementary principal position?

A I think it was a national progression for me and I wanted to keep the traditions at Clayton Elementary alive. I understand the traditions, why we do what we do here, and how it's so great for the kids to have those roots and early learning experiences to be as positive as possible. Mr. Dickerson, the principal that was here, and Mrs. Wicks – they were great administrators who I really looked up to and they continued a foundation here that I would love to see go into the future.

Q How did it feel to be named the new principal at CES?

A It was awesome. I'm still getting used to it. Of course Mike [Dulin] and I have been together since elementary school; we've been a team in lots different endeavors throughout our career. He was the PE teacher at North when I was there. He was the PE teacher here in Clayton when I was here so you know we've done things like had flag football here, we had cheerleading here. In high school he was as wrestler and I was a cheerleader so it was natural to have some sort of physical activities around here.

Q Why did you go into education?

A It's what I've always wanted to do ever since I was a small child. I always piled my doll babies and teddy bears and taught them. I had some wonderful educators and teachers when I was growing up. My second grade teacher I wanted to look like her, be like her, talk like her, chew like her, sit by her. I had a wonderful fifth grade teacher who taught me that physical education was important, healthy mind and body, who was just a great influence. Throughout high school I had great teachers who always went above and beyond, and that's what I wanted do is go above and beyond. I love supporting kids and I love in this job now I get to support teachers more. I was a grade level chair for third grade for years and I supported the people at my grade level. I like the family feeling. I like everybody having a team feeling that we're all in this together for the better of the kids. I absolutely love being around these elementary kids from kindergarten right on up. They shoot from the hip, they're honest, they let you know how they think and feel and you've got to love them for that. I enjoy the parents coming in. Here we try to let parents come in as often as possible and be with their kids, have lunch with them, volunteer in the classroom and just think that's awesome if they can do that.

Q What do you like about the job?

A Everything. It's nice to go to a job that you love so much and look forward to each and every day. Every day is a new challenge. There's no set schedule whatsoever; every day is different. I just love to help and support the kids and show them there are good choices that you can make and you have to think carefully about your choices and how it's going to affect the rest of your life. Hopefully they can learn some lifelong lessons here. We're their base; this is where the foundation starts right here.

Q What characteristics do you are needed to be a principal?

A You have to be consistent. You have to be firm sometimes. You have to let everybody know the expectations and the rules. Sometimes people fall and make bad choices but we have to learn from our mistakes and move forward from that on and become a better person. I think you have to be loving, caring and understanding. You have to have an open mind and have to show the human side. You have to let people know, 'Yeah I make mistakes as well and try to learn from my mistakes and try not to do that again.' You've got to have a sense of humor…you have just got to have a sense of humor. The kids help so much with that. They'll say something cute or funny. My family looks forward to it; they'll ask, 'What'd the little kindergarten kid say today?' They keep saying me to "Happy Principal" instead of "Happy Birthday." It rejuvenates you to be around these kids. I love going to lunch time. I walk around, sit with them, talk with them and try to get to the classrooms all the time to see what's going on.

Q What are your goals in this new position?

A Like I said before, I want to continue the traditions that have been established here. My goal is to give support to our students, families and our teachers in whatever capacity that may be. We have a great staff here and they work very, very hard and that's why I think supporting them is key to keeping the traditions and everything alive. Our goal is to be the best school that we can be, and provide the best education and learning environment as possible. There aren't any changes that need to happen here. A lot of people are saying to me, 'I'm glad you're going in because that means there won't be any big changes,' and that's right because Mr. Dulin and I worked very hard together to make the decisions about Clayton Elementary.

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