Photo by Ned Jilton II
MOUNT CARMEL — New Mount Carmel Elementary School Principal Kelli Campbell got her feet wet on the first day of school Monday morning. Then she got the rest of her body wet Monday evening at a school-sponsored "welcome back to school" party for students, parents and faculty at the Church Hill Public Pool.
Campbell told the Times-News on Tuesday she's ready to dive head first into MCES's "culture of high expectations."
But first she was required to dive into the swimming pool during Monday's pool party — joining the "Splash Club" — which has become a MCES tradition.
"I got to meet several of our community members and families (during the pool party) last night, and we had a great time," Campbell said Tuesday. "We had a very good turnout. I'm not sure what the final count will be, but we had a big portion of our community represented."
Campbell added, "I joined the Splash Club. I don't know if that's the official name or not, but every year there's a group of teachers who jump in the pool with the kids, so I got to jump in with the rest of the family."
Campbell has taught kindergarten, fourth grade and fifth grade, and she was later an RTI (response to intervention) coordinator at Woodland Elementary in Johnson City.
Most recently she worked for the Tennessee Department of Education in the First Tennessee Core Office in Johnson City as the regional academic consultant for intervention, serving schools from Morristown to Mountain City.
It was in that position that Campbell first came into contact with Hawkins County Schools.
"I just grew to love Hawkins County, and that's what led me to apply for the position when it was posted," Campbell said. "The people here were so nice and so welcoming, and they're moving in such a wonderful direction. They have some forward-thinking administrators, and I just really wanted to be part of that team."
Campbell said her first two days at MCES have been hectic, but she feels like the school year is getting off to a good start.
"I've been able to visit all of our classrooms and watch all of the 'positive behavior lessons' that the teachers are using with our students," she said. "It's been a great two days."
Campbell isn't the only new face at MCES this year. There's a new counselor, a new speech teacher and a new second-grade teacher who transferred from Carters Valley Elementary.
But other than that, Campbell is inheriting the faculty that has garnered tremendous academic accolades over the past few years under previous Principal Bobby Wines, including being named one of the top three elementary schools in the state last year for improved academic achievement.
Campbell said she knows there are high expectations for her at MCES, and she wouldn't want it any other way. She said high expectations are part of the "culture of the school."
"I think this school and this community are accustomed to high expectations," she said. "I strive to hold myself and the school to high expectations. I think it's been an easier transition because the level of professionalism and academic success is already so high. That's just how they do business. That's just how Mount Carmel Elementary School operates, so I look forward to working with them and working to improve our student achievement."