Editor’s note: Answering The Purcell Register’s five questions this week is Wayne Elementary School principal Julie Malone.
Q: What is the best part of being an elementary principal?
A: The kids. They are the best part of my job. Greeting students in the morning is my favorite part of the day. They don’t know a hug or smile from them is often the best part of my day.
One day in the cafeteria, ketchup was served with lunch, and kids just love to give cafeteria hugs. I ended up with a ketchup handprint on the back of my white sweater. I never did wear that sweater again, but it was worth it.
Working with an invested group of teachers and support personnel who are committed to making a difference in students’ lives is also a great part of my job. Wayne is fortunate to have a dedicated staff.
Q: Do you know the kids by name?
A: I truly do know the kids by name. That is a benefit that comes with working in a small school. When new students arrive, I make a point of learning their names quickly. I’ve laughed a time or two when a student passes me and says, “Hi, Principal.” I’ll reply, “Hi, Student,” and they look at me with a funny smile. I’m thinking, “Surely you can remember my name?”
Q: How difficult has it been dealing with young children during the pandemic?
A: I would not say it has been difficult to deal with young children during the pandemic. Our staff continues to be concerned about students’ well-being and academic loss. Everyone I know has been negatively affected by the pandemic whether it be emotionally, socially, financially, etc. Children are certainly no exception to that.
Many have experienced anxiety, fear, and depression.
In March of 2020 when schools swiftly shut down, our school staff was concerned about staying connected to our students and families. Maintaining a relationship was of the utmost importance during a time of such uncertainty.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Wayne Schools made a concerted effort to keep the doors open. It was an extremely difficult year for everyone, but we knew the best way to help our students and families during the pandemic was to provide them with routine, structure and some sense of normalcy. We were fortunate to provide in-person school for our students all year.
Q: Kids have a unique perspective on things. What is the most humorous you can recall?
A: Oh goodness. I’m entering year 30 in education, so to recall the single most humorous moment would be tough. The way kids explain how/why something happened often makes keeping a straight face difficult. They are funny by nature without intention. I regret not keeping a notebook of all the funny things kids have said. I was once advised to write it all down, but at the time I thought I would remember things forever.
I guess a good example of a child’s perspective is one time a student was in my office to discuss choices and consequences. He was no stranger to my office as we had conferenced many times. We were going through a general line of questioning: What happened? How do you think the other person felt? What can you do differently next time? and so forth. We talked for a long time. It was truly an impactful conversation, and I knew a real breakthrough had occurred. Then he looked up at me with his big eyes and said, “Is it time for recess?”
Q: What hobby or hobbies you do have?
A: I am an avid follower of OU sports and keep up with the happenings of college football across the country. I enjoy cooking, reading and gardening (although my flowerbeds would say otherwise). While not considered a hobby, I have a deep appreciation for nature and love spending time outside.