By Allison Parker
Commons Photo by Allison Parker
Everyday is just another day in paradise for 33-year-old school principal Tekeisha Ford. And that paradise is McDougle Elementary School in Carrboro. “I plan to be here for a while. I love what I do every day,” she said. “I enjoy the staff, students and parents that I work with.”
Ford said she hopes to get to know the 684 students at the school on a personal level. “When I walk down the hallways students see me and give me a hug,” she said. “I make an effort to make sure students know who I am.”
Ford, a native of Winton, received her Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill. “I majored in speech communications because I thought I wanted to go to dental school,” she said. But her life moved in a different direction.
Upon graduation, Ford got her first job as a teacher’s assistant at Ephesus Road Elementary School in Chapel Hill. “I fell in love with the kindergarten class that I was in,” she said. “The teacher I worked for was excellent.” So, Ford decided to continue on the teaching path.
After receiving her teacher’s certification from North Carolina Central University, she worked in Vance County for five years. She then moved to Durham and worked toward a master’s in school administration from North Carolina State University. She interned at Hope Valley Elementary School for one year and after receiving her degree, served as assistant principal at Lakewood Elementary School and Holt Elementary School in Durham.
Because of her previous experience, Ford said she wanted to stay in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. “I was familiar with the school system and the standards they had,” she said. “After teaching in other counties, I realized that Chapel Hill is a step ahead of everyone else.”
Ford began her job as principal of McDougle in July 2006. She said that as principal she hopes her students will accomplish the goals they set for themselves in life. “I want to make sure all of my students are successful, not only on the end-of-grade tests but that they achieve success on a daily basis.”
Ford said she wants students to make their time at McDougle a learning experience to remember. “I want to add a little spirit and bring some fun things into the classroom,” she said. “I want kids to look back and say, ‘Wow! McDougle is a fun place to be and to learn.'”
A typical day at McDougle can include greeting children as they enter the building, directing traffic and handling disciplinary issues, Ford said. “Sometimes I may do classroom observations or a walk through to make sure teachers are following the correct objectives. I also collaborate with the assistant principals, meet with parents and attend central-office meetings.”
Ford said she enjoys interacting with students on a daily basis. “I meet with students regularly to see how they are doing,” she said. “I sit down and work out problems with them.”
Outside of the classroom, Ford enjoys spending time with family, fishing and watching decorating shows. “I also love to do small home projects such as gardening and tiling.”
Ford said she is inspired by her mother, who also has a teaching career. “My mom is my role model and inspiration,” she said. “She has had breast cancer three times, undergone radiation and chemotherapy and still maintains her passion and love for teaching.”