New Gainesville Principal Returns Home to Middle School

| August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments | Education

Catherine Porter-Lucas stands by the Gainesville Middle School "Welcome" sign.

New Gainesville Middle School Principal Catherine Porter-Lucas is excited about her new position in which she is returning to work with middle school students.

Porter-Lucas is coming from her previous role as Assistant Principal at Battlefield High School. However, she considers herself first and foremost a middle school educator. Before becoming an administrator, she taught at three different Prince William County middle schools: Parkside, Bull Run and Godwin.

She says she loves working with middle school students and returning to a middle school setting feels like returning “home.” As she explained, “middle schoolers are really unique” – which is why she believes educating them requires a relationship with parents and staff members.

Because early adolescents are different than teenagers, the focus of middle school is also different. Whereas high schools are primary focused on academics, in middle school she explained “we really focus on the societal and emotional needs” as the primary objective.

However, she also believes she is well suited for this position due to her experience working at the high school level. Her knowledge of the high school expectations allows her to better guide teachers in aligning the curriculum to prepare students for their next academic endeavors. And now that Gainesville is no longer a feeder school into Battlefield, she plans to work with Patriot High School to find out how teachers at that school expect their upcoming students to prepared for the ninth grade.

Porter-Lucas also strikes one as a warm and friendly person who would work well with middle school students. She sees herself a person who can foster a cooperative environment. In her words, she is “a person who loves to build position relationships with students, staff and parents. I bring that desire to work as a team.”

She believes she is fortunate to take over a school that has a tradition of success and has been run well since Dr. Sally Maclean opened the school as principal in 2006.

Porter-Lucas said she plans to uphold Gainesville’s traditions.

Gainesville administrative team from L-R: Assistant Principals Todd Yoho and Carol April, Principal Catherine Porter-Lucas and Administrative Intern Joe Murgo.

“I’m not coming in and making a bunch of changes,” she said. However, she hopes to tweak a few things and “add my touch” to the school. She adds that she looks forward to working with an awesome staff and awesome students.

Porter-Lucas has already begun meeting with staff and parents to find out how they can work together.

“I love finding out why [the teachers and the staff] love coming to work,” she said; and she hopes to learn much from them about the working of the school.

She said what was true at Battlefield will also be at Gainesville: the students will come first. She intends always to make decisions with the students in mind, saying that “in a building where students feel safe and cared for, you are going to have success.”

She said she feels very fortunate that the Gainesville Middle School community is very supportive. She credits parental support for having helped to launch several very successful programs, especially the drama department and robotics club.

She also thinks that having classes that correspond with the Science and Arts Academy encourages Gainesville students to find their niche and pursue their interests. Having those classes, in addition to middle school encore and exploratory curriculum, helps students feel more engaged in learning.

Porter-Lucas is also happy to be teaching in her immediate community of Gainesville, where she is raising her family that includes her husband and their three-year-old daughter. She was also raised in Prince William County and attended its public schools.

“I live in this community, so I know that Gainesville Middle School is a fabulous school,” she said. Her hope is “to make it even greater.”

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