Triad Principal of the Year Erik Naglee of Page High School tackles the challenges of schooling amid COVID-19

What's Right with Our Schools

GREENSBORO, N.C. — For Page High School Principal Erik Naglee, teamwork is the name of the education game.

“A leader is only as strong as the team that is working each and every day,” Naglee said. “So I know many great leaders out there, but you’ve got to have that great, great team to support each and every day to make those sort of visionary pieces come, come into play and work.”

Especially during a pandemic that has changed education in just about every way possible.

“I think, just like anything, you know, you just have to show that perseverance and try to figure out a way, regardless of what it’s going to take, because obviously we’re all here for our students and just making sure that they have what they need, because they only get that one year in ninth grade, or they only get those four years in high school,” Naglee said. “And you’ve got to make that memorable in some way, regardless of what it takes on the adults’ behalf.”

It was Naglee’s leadership during these unprecedented times, that lead to him being named Principal of the Year not only for Guilford County but the whole Piedmont Triad region.

“Very, very surprised, humbled by it, but obviously it just goes to show with the great teamwork that’s happening here each and every day, things can be possible,” Naglee said. “And I can’t say enough about obviously what our entire community or our parents, our staff, and most importantly our students are doing on it on an everyday basis because obviously without them, none of this would be possible.”

He admits the challenges have been many, but says they are working through them together.

“Our teachers are having to deal with stuff that they’ve never had to deal with, so trying to support them and be their cheerleader as well, because many of us, I was talking the other day, many of us are first-time teachers again, because we’re learning different things, where I’m a first-year principal in many ways, trying to figure out how to navigate this as a school-based leader as well,” Naglee said.

Their support of each other and the students, he says never waivers.

“We’re just doing anything that we can to support our students,” Naglee said. “We’ve started many plans here that haven’t worked, and then you just sort of re-look at that and say, ‘OK, what has worked? What didn’t work?’ And then just sort of figure out what we can do to support our students.”

Especially those who may feel lost while learning virtually.

“The simple home visit is powerful because, obviously, that’s so hard to do, especially in a school of our size, but showing up on that doorstep just shows that, ‘Hey, regardless, I can ignore phone calls. I can ignore canvas messaging, but they’re going to come to my house and that’s how much they care,'” Naglee said.

He calls those visits time well spent.

“It’s just that constant push to make them believe because they can all be successful, and create that inner drive within them that they will be able to do this regardless of what they’re facing today,” Naglee said.

Because in Naglee’s view, they’re facing this together, and that’s the only way to win.

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