Drew leaving Rachel Patterson

Published 3:03 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
With each new school year comes change.
Rachel Patterson students will experience the biggest change in our area when they start back to school in August under the direction of a new principal.
Beth Drew, who has been principal at Rachel Patterson for six years, will begin working with the Escambia County Board of Education as elementary supervisor starting July 1.
"The position was posted in April," Drew said. "I interviewed in May and the announcement was made at the Board of Education meeting Thursday night. There was no defining moment that led me to leave Rachel Patterson. I like change and I just think it was time for a change. It was a great opportunity for me to work with people from across the county. I think change keeps a person fresh and keeps you motivated. I love this job and these kids. I am certainly going to miss the day-to-day interaction with the students and the friendships I have with the faculty and staff. My staff has been great."
As elementary supervisor Drew will work out of the BOE branch office located in Atmore and will travel to the six elementary schools within the county, including Rachel Patterson. The main focus of her job will be elementary curriculum, working one on one with the elementary principals and helping to coordinate with the Alabama Reading Initiative.
"I fully expect my new position to keep me busy," Drew said. "I want to do my best at whatever I do. My job as principal is an awesome responsibility and has many challenges, now I am just taking on a new set of challenges. In this position, I can focus on something I really like – the curriculum."
Drew was offered a job with the State Department several months back, but declined when she heard of the local position coming available.
"I would be traveling to several different counties with the State Department job," Drew said. "I wanted to stay in Escambia County. I figured that I had more than 20 years here and I wanted to keep it."
Drew, who was assistant principal at Flomaton for three years prior to coming to Rachel Patterson, also taught first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh grades for 14 years at Flomaton before entering the administrative end of the system.
"I chose going into education because I thought that it was the best thing for me as a mother," Drew said. "But I've always been drawn to the leadership side of education. I have 23 years with the county and could retire at the end of next year because I have one year of sick leave built up, but I'm not ready to quit just yet."
With the last day of school occurring before Drew's job announcement was made, the students at Rachel Patterson do not know about their beloved principal leaving. Drew scheduled an 8 a.m. faculty meeting Friday morning, the teacher's last day, following the Thursday evening announcement.
"I went ahead and scheduled a faculty meeting because I knew that one way or the other I would need to tell the staff whether or not I was going or staying," Drew said. "I started the meeting by saying, 'Unless you have lived under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you probably know that I applied for a position with the BOE.' Only a few of the teachers didn't know about it. They were all supportive and happy for me. They have been great to work with and whoever takes my place will be very lucky to have them. They will be walking into a great place here. As far as the students, I hate to not be the one to tell them, but it may make for a smoother transition next year. I saw one little boy today who was here with his mother and I was able to tell him."
Drew said that the parental support she has had while serving at Rachel Patterson has been great. She received several phone calls from parents wishing her well as the news spread Friday about her new position.
"Being a principal is an awesome responsibility," Drew said. "But it is also the most rewarding job a person can have. It is amazing to me when I drive down Craig Street and Roller Coaster Road and look out over the 20 acres of property that the school sits on and to know that I am responsible for everything that goes on there from whether or not a child can read, to keeping the grass cut, I am responsible for it all. This new position will have its challenges as well. I could have stayed right here at Rachel Patterson and be happy, but I love a challenge and this is a challenge for me to do something different."
According to Escambia County Board of Education Superintendent Buck Powell, Drew's position as principal was posted on Friday. The BOE will accept applications for 10 days and the candidates will interview before a committee made up of parents, community leaders and BOE personnel. Powell plans to have someone in place to be announced at the June BOE meeting.
Drew's Education

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