Five Questions for Johnson City's longest-tenured principal

Brandon Paykamian • Jan 14, 2020 at 7:00 PM

Carol McGill has served as Fairmont Elementary School’s principal for about 18 years, the longest-tenured principal in Johnson City Schools — a district she said she considers unique after teaching in six different states.

McGill corresponded with the Press to tell us more about herself and her work in education, starting with some fast facts.

Fast Facts:

Hobby: Reading

Favorite books: “There are so many. I love to read the same books that the students read at school. My favorite authors are Kristen Hannah and Jodi Picoult. I love biographies. My favorite biography is ‘Daniel Boone’ by Morgan.”

Favorite musician: George Strait

Honors: PTA Principal of the year in 2009, finalist for Principal of the Year in 2017-18

College: University of West Alabama

Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and your college experience?

I am from Atlanta, Georgia. After high school, I married and moved to Alabama, where my husband Steve and I both attended college at West Alabama. I obtained my master’s there, as well, in elementary education. Because of his job, we moved frequently and I added credit hours to be able to teach special education and reading. I have taught every grade through seventh, including special education and pre-K.

What made you decide to work in education?

From my first memories, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that every teacher I had showed such care and kindness that I wanted to be able to pass that along. I started teaching in August 1973, and have not stopped since then. My husband and I had a very influential mentor who encouraged us to complete our education. We were both first-generation college graduates. I want to always show and assure that kind of encouragement to our students and their families.

What do you think makes this district special?

It is such an honor to be a part of Johnson City Schools. Because I have taught in six states, I know that Johnson City Schools is truly unique and wonderful. The support system both internally and externally cannot be surpassed. Internally, our system’s supervisors and superintendent (Steve Barnett) assure our success through their support and involvement. Externally, our school community and parental support are such a powerful and positive force that upholds our system to assure the success of our students.

What do you think are the biggest challenges in education today? 

The increasing “political” aspect of education is both a challenge and a conflict. Because funding for quality educational systems depends on many entities, these groups can impede the effectiveness of teachers. Over the past several years, we have seen new governors and new state educational commissioners bring many changes to classrooms that require extensive training and time for implementation.

Do you see yourself doing anything else in the future? Do you have any plans moving forward?  

I feel so blessed to have been able to be able to have a career that I am passionate about. Educators impact lives every day in powerful ways. I hope to continue to influence students to be lifelong readers and learners. I will be eternally grateful to Johnson City Schools for allowing me to have the best job in the world.

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