Familiar face begins job as new MES assistant principal
|Middlesex Elementary School Assistant Principal Jeannie White Duke|
by Larry S. Chowning
Jeannie White Duke was appointed assistant principal of Middlesex Elementary School earlier this month by the county school board.
Duke is a longtime resident of Middlesex who grew up in Deltaville and graduated from Middlesex High School in 1985. She was a basketball and softball star for the Lady Chargers and was a member of the first MHS girls volleyball team.
She graduated from Radford University with a degree in elementary education. She received her master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix, an online program she finished in 2006.
Duke has been an elementary school teacher for 18 years. She spent 13 years in the Gloucester County School System and the last five as a third grade teacher at Middlesex Elementary School.
“I’m real excited about the opportunity to be assistant principal at MES but I’ve always been happy teaching,” Duke said last week.
“It wasn’t until the last four or five years that I’ve felt I have more to offer,” she said. “I felt I could affect things in a bigger way and I felt the only way I could do that was by stepping up to an administrative role.
“I went back to school and got my master’s,” she said. “Then people asked me if I was going to try and move up, but I told people that I wasn’t in a hurry. I was really waiting for the right opportunity.
“I felt when the time was right, I would know what to do,” she said. “I was also waiting for my own kids to get a little older. I have a child going into third grade, one at St. Clare Walker, and I have one who will be going to college in a couple years.”
“I think we have such a great staff at this school and a lot of potential,” Duke said. “I love the school and have enjoyed teaching here. I feel I have a lot to offer.
“I have a strong instructional background, having taught for 18 years and I know this school having been here five years,” she said. “I understand the problems because I’ve been in the trenches.”
MES principal Joannie Banks said Duke will help with instruction, discipline, custodial staff and facilities, but about half of her job will deal with instruction.
Banks said she has enjoyed working with Duke as a teacher and she looks forward to working with her in administration.
“Joannie is an easy person to work with, an experienced administrator, and a good person to bounce ideas off as I’m learning the job,” said Duke.
Duke said she thinks she and Banks bring a good team concept to the job. “Mrs. Banks has a good special education background and mine is more regular classroom. I think that’s a good combination,” she said.
School board chairman Dr. Richard Shores said the school board hates to lose Duke in the classroom, but she has prepared herself well to move into administration. “I think she will be a tremendous addition to the elementary school and will strengthen the overall administration program within the school,” he said.
“We are extremely happy that we have someone on staff that is qualified to take over the position,” said Shores.
Duke is the daughter of Lee and Helen White of Deltaville.