By Emily Sorensen
Though it is her first time working with elementary school students, Christine Donnelly is up for the challenge.
Creekside Elementary School is one of the many schools in the Poway Unified School District with a new principal for the 2013-14 school year.
Donnelly, who has been an assistant principal at Meadowbrook Middle School since 2010, is taking over the role of principal at Creekside Elementary School, while former Creekside principal Robin Robinson moves over to Chaparral Elementary School.
“It’s my first time at an elementary school,” said Donnelly, who before she was an assistant principal, taught at Meadowbrook. “I have three kids though, so I have practice [with elementary school age children.”
Donnelly didn’t initially plan to be become a teacher. Her initial career plan, she said, was international business, earning a social sciences degree. At 27, she decided to go into teaching. “I just loved it,” said Donnelly. Though she thought she’d be a high school history teacher, she ended up teaching middle school — and loved it. “I really loved middle school,” said Donnelly. “I come from a love of history, and I wanted to share it with the students.”
Donnelly also previously worked with the After School Education and Safety program, doing grant work, for six years. “There’s a lot of administrative work running a grant,” said Donnelly. After getting her master’s degree in education leadership, Donnelly said she thought she’d return to the classroom and teach, but was encouraged to go into the administrative side of education.
One of the reasons Donnelly is looking forward to working at Creekside, she said, was that the school feeds into Meadowbrook Middle School, her former school. “It’s nice, because I know a lot of the families,” said Donnelly.
Despite the new principal, Donnelly said that families shouldn’t expect a bunch of changes for the new school year, as her plan is to sit back and watch. “My main goal this [first] year is to look and listen to what the teachers need to be successful, and to continue to challenge themselves and the students,” said Donnelly. “It’s all about supporting the staff.”
One new change is that all third-graders will have iPads in the classroom this coming school year, with a possible expansion to more grades in the following year. The iPads, provided by the Creekside Educational Foundation, will be available to borrow, rent-to-own, or students can bring their own from home.
“I’m somebody with a lot of school spirit. I like to work really closely with the students,” said Donnelly. “I can see myself being really involved and hands-on. I’ve got a lot of great ideas.”