Joy Andrews knows what it’s like to be a parent. She knows what it’s like to be a teacher. She knows what it’s like to be a guidance counselor.
"I’ve walked a mile in their shoes," she said.
The new Sugarland Elementary School assistant principal hopes her life experiences will come in handy in September.
During the summer months, Andrews keeps busy unpacking boxes, arranging her office and talking to parents and teachers.
"I’m trying to talk and listen, to get a better understanding of the school," she said.
By talking to parents and teachers, Andrews said she is getting a better understanding of what Sugarland is like. She described the Sterling school as "tight-knit" and "diverse."
The former Fairfax County Public Schools fifth-grade teacher and guidance counselor speaks Spanish. She’s already used her language skills when meeting with parents.
"It helps to speak another language. It makes the atmosphere more welcoming," Andrews said. "I enjoy working with a diverse population of students. All you can learn. It’s just amazing."
FOR 10 years, Andrews worked as a guidance counselor at Providence Elementary School. Then, she went back to school and returned to the Fairfax school to teach fifth grade.
"People thought I was crazy, but I wanted to experience firsthand what teachers go through day to day," Andrews said. "I think it’s important to live it, not just to talk it."
Loudoun County Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard said Andrews met Sugarland’s principal, Angie Robinson, while working as a guidance counselor at Providence Elementary School. At the time, Robinson was an assistant principal there.
Robinson, replaces Jennifer Ostrowski, who resigned for personal reasons, as of July 1, said she and Andrews have a lot of learning to do.
"We’re in the get-to-know-you stage," Robinson said. "We’re getting to know the parents, the teachers, the students. We want them to get to know us."
In addition to getting to know the Sugarland community, Robinson and Andrews will continue to work on the school’s three-year goals in reading and math and their relationships with teachers, students and parents.
"We hope to provide the leadership they’re looking for," she said. "The second half of the year, we’ll share our ideas and experiences to make the school even better."
As Sugarland’s new assistant principal, Andrews said her job is to assist Robinson.
In addition, Andrews said she is busy getting classrooms ready, making sure teachers have the tools and resources they need and making sure the school is safe for students in September.
"I want to make sure the climate is positive," Andrews said.
WHEN THE FINAL bell rings, Andrews enjoys reading, watching movies and antique shopping.
For now, Andrews has one main goal, to stay positive.
"I want to be positive for staff, students, whoever. Smile all the time," she said. "When you’re positive, people around you are positive. Students do better. The return is so good."