Principal wants to learn each child’s name

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Rock Ridge Elementary School’s new principal, Emily Chilton, puts her head into every classroom at the beginning of each day.

The students in each room greet her and the school’s assistant principal, Antonnia Carter.

“Good morning, Ms. Chilton. Good morning, Ms. Carter,” say the students in almost every classroom.

But when the two administrators step into Debbie Hancock’s fifth-grade math class, the retort is “Good morning, Ms. Lewis. Good morning, Ms. Chilton,” as many in the class habitually named the school’s outgoing principal Jennifer Lewis.

Such is the life of a new principal, and Chilton takes it in stride.

Getting names right is something that Chilton tries to do, as she manages to greet every student by their first name as each one arrives at school each day.

“I work to learn the kids. Being at Rock Ridge the last two years, I have learned all of their names in first through fifth grades. The kids moving up, I know those students,” Chilton said. “I don’t know all of the kindergartners yet, but I will work to know them.”

Chilton, assistant principal at Rock Ridge for the last two years, is one of six new principals at Wilson County Schools this academic year. Others include Jennifer Parker at Daniels Learning Center, Claudia Spencer at Winstead Elementary School, Annette Faison at Frederick Douglass Elementary School, Wendy Daniel at Vinson-Bynum Elementary School and Daniel Barnes at Barnes Elementary School.

Chilton, a Beddingfield High School and Barton College graduate, is in her 11th year with Wilson County Schools. She has taught third grade and fifth grade and was an advanced placement teacher for two years.

“I look forward to seeing each child in my building become successful in as many ways and areas as they can,” Chilton said. “I look forward to carrying on the tradition of high expectations at Rock Ridge and seeing the students overcome obstacles in learning with the help of their teachers and other support staff at our school.”

Rock Ridge Elementary School has one of the best academic histories in Wilson County Schools, and Chilton plans on maintaining it.

“We will continue to maintain our high academic expectations by continuing to work closely throughout the school,” Chilton said.

“Through differential instruction, teachers work daily to meet the needs of each individual child. Parent and community partners extend the learning opportunities at home, which also helps maintain the tradition of high academic performance. We are always looking for ways to improve.”

At Rock Ridge, students recite the Rock Pledge daily.

‘They will show respect to themselves and all others,” Chilton said. “They will obey their teachers. They will care about the feelings of others. They will accept responsibility and help keep our school neat and clean.”

Chilton said the most challenging thing about being principal is remembering to take time for herself.

“My dedication to the students at Rock Ridge is what keeps me smiling daily,” Chilton said. “The hope that I can impact the lives of the students and staff at my school in a positive manner keeps me going.

“I am so excited for this year and the great things that are ahead of all of us at Rock Ridge. I am blessed to have the support of my family, friends and the Rock Ridge community, my staff and my students.”