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New CES principal is ready to get going

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Paul Terrell’s father and namesake is new principal at St. Augustine

By Stevie Lowery

Paul Terrell’s father and namesake is who inspired him to become an educator. And, as fate would have it, they are both starting new jobs as principals at two Marion County schools next month.
Terrell’s father is going to be principal at St. Augustine Grade School, and he was hired last week to become Calvary Elementary School’s principal.
“Two Paul Terrell administrators… I don’t know what’s going to happen to Marion County,” he said with a laugh sitting in his new office at Calvary Elementary Wednesday morning. “St. A got an excellent leader. But, I’m very biased.”
Terrell, 28, has been an English language arts teacher at the former Lebanon Middle School since 2012. He has also coached basketball, and said he just loves working with kids.
“Anyone who works with children, you have to want to be with kids and care about their success,” he said.
Terrell, who was born and raised in Washington County, graduated from Washington County High School in 2007, and attended the University of Kentucky to earn a degree in middle school education, with an emphasis on social studies and language arts. He was hired five years ago to teach sixth grade English language arts at Lebanon Middle.
“Go into a classroom of sixth graders and tell them they are writing a five-paragraph essay. You are probably the most hated person,” Terrell said, with a laugh. “But, it’s such an important skill. What you do for every class in college? Write.”
Terrell said he’s enjoyed working with the sixth grade age group, and has learned so much from his fellow teachers.
“The sixth grade staff at LMS was just such a great team,” he said. “Teresa Barnett – she was just such a great mentor. Without her, I don’t know if I would be in the position I am in now. The whole group is just excellent teachers. I was able to learn from each of them.”
While he’s been teaching at LMS, Terrell has also been attending the University of the Cumberlands and in three years he’s earned three degrees – a masters degree in leadership, his Rank I degree as an instructional supervisor, and his principal certification. Terrell said he wanted to become a principal because he’ll get to have more of an impact on more children.
“I believe that as an administrator, I have an opportunity to reach even more students than I did within the four walls of my classroom,” Terrell said.
He also looks forward to working with the team of teachers at Calvary and getting to know them better. Building relationships with the students and staff is key, Terrell said.
“You can be one of the best teachers in the world, but if your students don’t know that you care about them, it’s a mute point,” he said. “Same way with teachers. People that know you care about them will go the extra mile for you.”
And while he is the youngest administrator in the district, he doesn’t think that should be viewed as a weakness.
“Instead of seeing that as a weakness, see it in this way... in five years I’ve had success in the classroom. I’ve had the opportunity to go to the University of the Cumberlands and earned three degrees while having a fulltime job. I’m a husband and father. I’m very driven and very motivated. I have a great support system behind me. Age may throw some question marks up for people, but it’s not my age that will define how I perform as a principal.”
He later added, with a laugh, “Besides, I’ll be 29 in a few months.”
Terrell said his primary focus as principal will be the students, and he wants the parents of Calvary Elementary School students to know and understand that about him.
“We talk a lot about proficient and distinguished… and that’s important… but that’s not the most important thing to me as a principal or as an individual. It’s about the kids and what we can do to improve their success and help them grow? All means all. All kids are important and all kids deserve an opportunity. I care about every child, regardless if they have an A-plus or a D-minus.”
Terrell said he is well-aware of Calvary’s academic success, and he’s honored to help build on that success as the school’s principal.
“Calvary is an amazing school,” he said. “The community that supports this school and the teachers that work here are some of the best you could hope for. I already have teachers who want to meet with me. And, I want to continue to motivate them. I’m not here to rewrite anything. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My goal is to reinforce what is doing well.”
Terrell said he’s sure he’ll have some nerves as he greets students and meets parents on the first day of school Aug. 9, but he’s excited and feels very confident because he has such great people surrounding him.
“I’m ready to get going,” he said. “I’m overly excited.”
Terrell and his wife, Kristen, live in Washington County and are the proud parents of a three-year-old daughter, Caroline, and a six-month-old son, Eli.
“I’ve gone from changing dirty diapers and making bottles to being a principal,” Terrell said, with a laugh. “It’s all good stuff. I’m a very blessed person.”