GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — With the passage of the historic Guilford County Schools bond, several schools in the district have started construction for improvements.
While crews are working to replace Claxton Elementary in Greensboro, hundreds of kindergarten through third graders from Claxton spend their days in classrooms at Jesse Wharton Elementary, about eight miles away.
The school system held its annual Principal for a Day event, and FOX8 stopped into Jesse Warton to see how the school is handling all the extra kids.
Nobody loves walking the halls of Jesse Wharton more than Principal Merrie Conaway, watching the students laugh and learn in classrooms across campus.
“Being principal….it’s a phenomenal job,” said Conaway.
Conaway has been the principal at Jesse Wharton for the past two and a half years, but she’s been an elementary school principal for 18. That experience is undoubtedly why Guilford County Schools chose her to lead during difficult times.
“Guilford county selected us as a place where we could be a swing space for Claxton elementary while their school is being rebuilt,” said Conaway. “The Jesse Wharton staff and the Claxton staff have had to work together to kind of coexist in our building.”
Leadership during a temporary school merger that saw hundreds of Claxton students enter Jesse Wharton classrooms and hallways is no easy task, but Conaway takes it in stride.
“I don’t think that that the children even notice it, they notice that there are a lot of different people here that they don’t know,” she said. “Everyone is willing to do what is necessary so that kids from both schools are getting the support that they need.”
On “Principal for a Day,” however, Conaway has to let go of the reins and let someone else fill her shoes.
“I am principal of the day at Jesse Wharton elementary… It’s a great day,” Rebecca Buffington said with a laugh.
Buffington is no stranger to Principal for a Day. She’s worn that hat a few times, and used to serve on the Guilford County school board.
“It always is that jolt of excitement and adrenaline that you need this time of year…” said Buffington.
With both Claxton and Wharton students there, it was a different kind of walk through familiar hallways for Buffington.
“I wanted to see how that’s working. You know how they’ve adapted them to classrooms,” she said.
She came away from the experience with a new appreciation for what the administration has done at the school during a tough time, and why they do it.
“The team here at Jesse Wharton, amazing! How they’ve opened their arms and welcomed their new friends and have existed together here,” she said.
“All of those hugs, smiles, greeting me by name,” Conaway said. “Make me feel like the work that I’m doing is important. “
The Principal for a Day Program had more than 100 people in the community out in schools today. This year, they also had people shadowing bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other school leaders as well!