Like most educators, Cynthia McNatt has always wanted to be a teacher. When McNatt was in kindergarten, she marched home one day to inform her mother that someday she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. Fast forward several years and it is a dream that eventually came true.

On July 1, another dream came true for McNatt as she changed gears as the new associate principal of Clayton Intermediate and John Bassett Moore Intermediate schools.

“I always loved to learn. I just knew I wanted to be a teacher,” McNatt said. “I also always wanted to be an administrator. I thought this was a good opportunity, and a good opportunity to learn under good leadership.”

As the associate principal, McNatt will work under JBM Principal Elyse Baerga and CIS Principal David Paltrineri. The position was previously filled by Deb Judy, who was recently promoted to principal at Sunnyside Elementary.

Before being promoted herself, McNatt spent time – 19 years to be exact – as a kindergarten and then first grade teacher at North Smyrna Elementary. While McNatt loved being a teacher, she saw being an administrator as a chance to give back.

“I wanted to give back to the community and all the teachers I’ve worked with,” McNatt said. “[Superintendent] Mrs. [Debbie] Wicks and everyone in the school district is like a family.”

McNatt was also inspired to become an administrator after her mother passed away following a battle with cancer; the heartbreak reminded McNatt that life is short and inspired her to go back to school.

“I realized I may not go into administration but we should keep educating ourselves,” she said.

McNatt is looking forward to the change in scenery, and with working with fifth and sixth graders since she’s only worked with kindergarteners and first graders.

Since taking over in the position, McNatt has helped with summer school. She said she’s learning a lot and is taking it all in. Starting before the school year begins is allowing McNatt to get settled in; she already feels at home.

When it comes to education, McNatt likes watching children learn something new and seeing how excited students get when they’ve accomplished a task.

“I feel like I’m making a difference. It’s the best feeling in the world,” McNatt said.