By Michaela Kron

Reginald Stephens is no stranger to education. He has been in the field for 17 years, and on July 1 he began a new chapter in his career with his official start as the principal of Woodward Elementary School, across Curtis Drive from Cross Keys High School.

Stephens’ passion for education began while he was an undergraduate student of early childhood education at Georgia College and State University, where he also received his master’s and educational specialist degrees.

Stephens, 41, started as a first-grade teacher and the Early Intervention Program reading and math specialist at Panola Way Elementary School in Lithonia, where he taught for eight years. After that, he served as assistant principal at Shadow Rock Elementary School in Lithonia for six years.

Stephens served as a Title I Supplemental Educational Services coordinator for the DeKalb County School System for four years. He spent two of those years working at Woodward, where he taught a program on Saturdays that focused on testing standards and the individual academic needs of students.

“I’m very familiar with the demographics of the school,” Stephens said. “I’m very familiar with the parents and the students and the specific needs of the school.”

As principal, one of Stephens’ main goals is for Woodward to achieve adequate yearly progress for the third year in a row.

“Woodward is doing a great job, so what I want to do is just continue the success,” he said.

Stephens does not immediately plan to add any programs to Woodward. He said he will use instructional and test data as well as parent surveys to determine the need to enhance existing programs or implement new ones.

In fulfilling his duties as principal, Stephens said he will assume the eight roles of leadership: curriculum, assessment and instruction leader; data analysis leader; process improvement leader; learning and professional development leader; relationship leader; performance leader; operations leader; and change leader.

“There are different types of roles that you have to play as a leader, and a good leader knows how to balance the eight roles of leadership,” he said.

Stephens said the DeKalb County School System has been instrumental in providing educational materials such as several interactive electronic Promethean whiteboards, student supplies, and funding for renovations to the school’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Although Stephens anticipates a short adjustment period as Woodward’s principal once the school year begins Aug. 10, he hopes to have a productive year and is committed to helping the school community succeed.

“We’re going to set high expectations for our students and teachers, and we’re going to work toward reaching those goals,” he said.