Principal Evans helps Ecker Hill Middle School succeed
The school has adopted new safety measures and dual immersion
When Traci Evans began her teaching career at Parley’s Park Elementary School, she never dreamed of becoming a principal. Now, as principal of Ecker Hill Middle School, she never dreams of doing anything else.
Evans has been principal for eight years now, helping the school be named as one of the national “Schools to Watch” in 2013 for its academic excellence – which it is applying for again next year — and improving programs based on safety and mental health for students.
One of the changes Evans made was adding a new counselor, so the ratio to students is about 1:290. She also supported one of the counselors, Johnna Rousso, who applied for a grant so teachers and counselors could be trained on mindfulness and improve mental health throughout the school.
Evans has made student well-being a priority by focusing on a safe environment at the school. Every Friday, the students wear a “Dude Be Nice” shirt to remind classmates to end bullying.
“The climate of our school this year is very positive,” she said.
While safety of students is the priority, Evans said the job also means being an instructional leader to the teachers.
“It’s helping teaching and giving them the support that they need so they can be the best instructor,” she said.
Evans does this by frequently stopping into classrooms and asking teachers and students how everything is going. Students stop to wave and say, “Hi, Ms. Evans,” as she makes her rounds, some giving her high-fives or showing off a project that they are working on. The connection to the students is what she loves more than anything in the job. She talks with them and observes their work, unless she is in one of the many meetings she attends.
“Meetings are by far the least favorite part of my job,” she said. “I like to be in the classrooms. That is where I want to be. It’s hard when I’m sitting around all day and not seeing what the kids are doing.”
As principal, the students guide every decision that she makes. If it does not benefit them, she will not do it. Ember Conley, superintendent said Evans is “always focused on the best interest of her students at Ecker Hill Middle School”
While some discipline takes place, even that, Evans said, is to help students.
“This is a great time to make mistakes in your life,” she said. “Make them now, learn from them and let’s move on.”
Influencing the lives of teachers and students is what motivates her every day.
“I love it, because you can really impact student lives,” she said. “You really can make a difference. As a teacher, you have an impact on every student in your classroom, but here I can have an impact on every student.”