While working with special needs students at a young age, Anita Wansley knew teaching would be the right path for her.
“I was inspired to be a special education teacher, so I started my career in special education,” said Wansley, the new principal at Northeast Lauderdale Elementary School.
Wansley, who has taught in both the Meridian Public and Lauderdale County School Districts, has more than 20 years of experience in education. Her most recent role was as an interventionist at West Lauderdale Elementary.
At Northeast, Wansley is adjusting to her new role, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the school operates.
But working in special education taught her how to adapt to what students need based on the situation, she said.
“I think all my experiences, whether inside the classroom or outside the classroom in educational leadership, prepared me in becoming a principal,” she said. “Especially becoming a principal during a global pandemic.”
She emphasized the school's mission of working with the whole child.
“I want to continue the mission where we grow hearts and minds,” Wansley said. “It's more than a test score, we are trying to develop children, emotionally, as well as academically, socially, and looking at the whole child."
In the short term, she hopes to encourage parental engagement and create a community advisory board to serve the needs of families in the school community.
A long-term goal is to help students who may have fallen behind when schools were closed in March. That process could last into the spring or fall of 2021, she said.
Even though each day may bring a new challenge, Wansley said she's looking forward to a productive school year.
“I think there's going to be a time to where we are not wearing masks, back here to 100 percent," she said. "Ready to be back on track to tackle the hard work and getting the kids back on grade level.”