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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Favorite Principal

Posted September 30, 2009 10:37 a.m. EDT

Close your eyes. Think back to your school days. Make a quick scan of your journey from elementary to middle school and then on to high school. Who was your favorite principal along the way? What made this person stand out? Please share your thoughts.

Savon Willard is sure to pop up on many favorite principal lists. Savon is retiring this week after more than 33 years in public education. Some of her biggest fans can be found at Salem Elementary School. Savon opened this high performing Apex school ten years ago. Over the last decade Savon has drawn the praise of parents, children, teachers and administrators. She was a finalist for 2008 Principal of the Year in Wake County.

My wife Cindy, a speech therapist, worked with Savon for several years. Cindy says:

“Savon has always been extremely supportive of her staff. She will to go bat for her staff and obtain whatever resources are needed in order for teachers to do their jobs. One of her quotes that I liked was ‘Be what you want to see.’ She has always been on the cutting edge of innovation.”

Salem Elementary parent Maria Johnson had this to say about Savon Willard:

“She has steadfastly led with calm love and respect for all our teachers, staff, parents, and especially our children. She developed our Salem Family. She is our matriarch, whom we look up to and cherish. Savon IS the culture of Salem and she will be greatly missed. So, out of love and respect, we are saying good-bye...with tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts for a woman who made a difference in all our lives.”

Another parent, Madi Krevat, also gushed with praise for Savon:

“She tried to say hello to every child as they came into school and it was so nice to see their faces light up as she called them by name. To some, the title principal evokes a little fear but no one feared Savon. All the children loved her and she never walked away from a hug or a handshake or a smile or a hello. Savon always put the needs of the children first.”

A glowing assessment of Savon Willard came from Salem kindergarten teacher Darlene Germano:

“All of her efforts at Salem Elementary had the bottom line of helping our children grow and learn both academically and socially. She really cares and her tireless enthusiasm has inspired me to be a better teacher. I will miss her spirit at our school but am so glad our paths crossed, both professionally and personally! She's the best!”

I don’t know about you but I get a lump in my throat when I read stories about great educators. Savon Willard has left her marvelous mark on Wake County. She will be deeply missed in the school system.