James Dallas didn't take over as principal of Hybla Valley Elementary School until the beginning of August, yet he and his staff have probably done more in one month than some schools do all summer.
Seven new teachers and several new staff members have been hired. A new assistant principal started a few weeks ago. The staff spent a day this week at Fort Hunt Park doing team-building exercises and enjoying a catered lunch.
"It was a great way to start the year; it gave everybody the opportunity to work together outside the building. The office and custodial staff is incredible. I tell them that we all have a role in running this school," said Dallas. "We are getting off to a good start. The county has been very supportive."
One of Dallas' goals is to work on engaging the community, and already, the school has already planned a Welcome Back Barbecue for the community to coincide with the annual Open House. With so many families working multiple jobs and speaking different languages, getting them involved is a top priority for him.
Dallas said that he plans to do some out-of-the-box thinking. "If families can't make it to us, we'll bring our resources to them. We'll do whatever it takes," he said.
DALLAS BELIEVES strongly in outreach, and plans to work with local agencies such as United Community Ministries (UCM). He's also excited about the partnership with Costco, which has already donated 650 backpacks and food for the barbecue.
Dallas has had plenty of experience in the field of education. He started working as a classroom teacher at Fairview Elementary School, teaching 2nd, 4th and 6th grades over a period of eight years, with emphasis on special education inclusion.
After that, he spent four years at the central office as a specialist in their instructional services department (ISD). Before coming to Hybla Valley, he was the assistant principal at William Halley Elementary School for three years.
"I told the teachers at our staff meeting that I was a classroom teacher once, so I do have some credibility," said Dallas.
His drive from his home in Aldie will be a little longer than before. He is married to Camelita, a Realtor with Long & Foster; they have two daughters, Victoria and Olivia.
"I'm honored and excited to be here and serve in this capacity. The staff has shown me that theyíre willing to go the extra mile," said Dallas.