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Each week, Education World profiles a different school principal. His or her responses offer insight into what it takes to be a principal, what a principal's day is like, and the special challenges a principal faces.



Principal Profile: All About Teri Stokes


Image Your school:
Weatherly Heights Elementary School, a K-5 school in Huntsville, Alabama (560 students)

Your education experience:
I have been a regular ed and special ed teacher, a counselor, a special ed coordinator, and an elementary counseling coordinator. I have been a principal in two different schools for a total of 14 years.

What is the greatest challenge you face this school year?
Making sure the teachers and staff are supported -- and feel supported -- with all the additional requirements that the system and the state keep placing on them.

What is your education motto/mantra/mission?
Be proactive, informed, and caring in all I do.

How much work, if any, do you take home?
I don't take it home. I stay late if needed, but when I am home, my family gets all of me.

Who or what most influenced your decision to become an educator?
My parents -- they were both teachers who made a difference. I wanted to make a difference as well.

What do you do to relieve stress?
To relieve stress, I go into a classroom or eat with children in the lunchroom or get physical and clean off my desk!

If you could have a different career, what would that be?
I love doing workshop presentations, so I would do that full time.

If you're having a good day at work, what makes it good?
A good day is when I have been able to hear a child read or look at children's work and have them explain it to me.

Do you have any unusual pastimes?
I am in a tap-dancing principals group! Seven principals from our system tap dance weekly. We've presented at local, regional, and national conferences -- not just the dance but a presentation of principal ideas called POW -- Principles of Wisdom. Last year, we attracted an overflow crowd at the NAESP conference in San Diego.

What fills your time outside school?
I am a mother of four and a grandmother of two.