(PHOTO: Sheryl Dunn, the new principal of Itawamba Agricultural High School, has big plans for the coming school year. By improving communication between teachers and parents, and encouraging both to voice any ideas or concerns to her, Dunn hopes to make IAHS one of the best schools in the state. – Photo by Adam Armour)
By ADAM ARMOUR
Sheryl Dunn is Itawamba Agricultural High School's biggest fan. From the first moment she stepped inside its hallways in 1997, Dunn knew IAHS was where she belonged.
“I just fell in love with this school,” she said. “I've enjoyed every minute of being here.”
Now, eight years later, Dunn prepares to spend her first year as principal of the school, a prospect that she finds thrilling. Students may dread its coming, but Dunn can't wait to hear the ringing bell of the first day of school.
Serving as the school's leader, Dunn has one single ideal in mind — she believes that the success of the school depends on one thing: teamwork.
“I believe that by working together we could make IAHS one of the best schools in the state,” Dunn said enthusiastically. “The community support is amazing; it's definitely the strength of the school. A lot of schools don't have that and here you do. Everyone here works together to strengthen that bond between school and community.”
There are some areas, however, Dunn hopes to improve upon such as communication between teachers and parents.
“We want our parents to be informed,” Dunn said.
An open house is already scheduled to be help approximately four weeks into the school year, a move she hopes will help build a rapport between the educators and the parents.
“We want parents to be informed, to come in and meet the teachers. We want to get that started early,” she said.
The students of the school earn a great deal of respect from Dunn, and she speaks of them with the fondness of a loving parent.
“If you look at the school and its graduates, I think you'll find that there are some very successful people,” Dunn said.
In order to continue this tradition of successful graduates, Dunn plans to emphasize strong discipline, strong academic curriculum and strong extra curricular activities. She feels that these three areas are essential in building accomplished students.
“I want students of this school to have a well-rounded education,” Dunn said. “Students who get involved have a sense of ownership of the school.”
Dunn spent her first years at IAHS teaching health, child development and family dynamics before being promoted to assistant principal in 2003. For her, working on an administrative level was a sure-fire way to work first-hand at building a better school.
“I really loved being in the classroom, and there are times that I still miss it,” she said, “but, I just felt that I could make a bigger difference in administration.”
Although the move from assistant principal to principal may have seemed completely natural, Dunn attests that it was somewhat of a surprise and entirely an honor.
“I feel very fortunate that I was the one chosen,” Dunn said. “I'm very loyal to this school, and I truly care about the students and faculty here.”
Dunn foresees the coming year as being full of successes for the students, their parents, the faculty and the community as a whole.
“I see an excitement building for this school year and that is important for me,” she said. “The taxpayers of this county deserve more than someone who just shows up for the job. We are paid to educate these students and to have a good school for this community. In that aspect, our faculty will be an extremely hard-working one, and I'll work just as hard. My leadership philosophy is, 'Let's do it together.'”