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New Principal Raising Sense of Optimism at Aberdeen

Posted by Steve Rogers | July 20, 2012 / 04:23pm | Local News, Education
ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) -- When the state took over the Aberdeen school district this spring, it caused a domino effect of administrative changes and a mixture of fear and optimism in the community.

One of the new faces is at Aberdeen High school, where a number of students almost missed graduation this year. But that new principal already is breeding a new attitude.

Although Desmond Radcliff comes from a long line of teachers in his family, he's the first to take on an administrative role. But since retiring from the military and getting into education 13 years ago, he's developed a reputation for change.

"I enjoy being a principal. I enjoy impacting students' lives. I enjoy creating relationships between students and teachers and teachers and teachers," Radcliff said during a break from a teachers' training session today.

When Conservator Bob Strebeck, who took over administration of the school district in May, needed someone to change Aberdeen High, he knew who to call. In the last three years, Strebek has managed Panola County and Hazlehurst school districts after state take overs. In both districts, he called on Radcliff, who took three different schools to successful ratings in the last three years.

And from the teachersat Aberdeen High, it's obvious a sense of hope and optimism already is filtering through the school.

"I took my leadership of leading troops in the military and used that as I work today as a principal to lead this battalion," the new principal explained.

Radcliff rose to the rank of staff sergeant during eight years in the Army. That included a stint running border patrol in Iraq. He feels his military experience helps to run a tight ship. But he says his interaction with students and teachers is the key to his success.

"Usually I have a Monday morning assembly. I let the children know all the sports that are going on. I reiterate dress code, behavior, do's and don'ts. I'm visible and I give them an opportunity to ask questions," Radcliff said.

Making them feel part of the solution and giving them a stake in the community is key to changing the school's culture..

"My goal is to build student relations with teachers. Take care of children first and foremost. Getting the kids to understand that this is their community. I see nothing but success for Aberdeen," he concluded.

Radcliff has been on the job for three weeks and says, the community has welcomed him with open arms and he looks forward to his time in North Mississippi.
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