06/08/06 — Teacher begins new quest ... to be a principal

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Teacher begins new quest ... to be a principal

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 8, 2006 1:48 PM

It might very well be that Terry Hines' inability to be bossed around brought her to the threshold on which she now stands -- preparing to become a boss herself.

Mrs. Hines, 45, recently became the recipient of a $40,000 scholarship covering two years of training as a school principal.

Awarded through the N.C. Principal Fellow program, the award is similar to the Teaching Fellow model. If she works in a school system for four years, in her case as a principal, Mrs. Hines will not have to repay the college loan.

But there is nothing traditional about the way she reached this career crossroads, first as a teacher and now as a potential administrator.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Scott, for a time the couple owned and operated Hines Grocery at Casey's Mill Road in the Dudley area. Becoming parents contributed to some of her future plans.

"That's one reason I was interested in working in the school system," she says now. "When they got a little older, I could be where they were."

Little did she know how far it would take her.

When son Brandon, now 20, started kindergarten at Brogden Primary School, she became a volunteer in his class, with daughter Brandy, now 19, in tow.

She later got her license to drive a school bus. She also filled in wherever needed -- classroom, cafeteria, school office before setting her sights on being a teacher assistant.

"One day I put up a bulletin board -- this was actually the turning point. I was tickled with it. It had 3-D trees," she recalls. "When the class came back from lunch, I asked how the teacher liked it. She wanted me to move one of my trees."

It was at that moment, Mrs. Hines says, that she realized she would rather take charge than take orders.

All that stood in her way was an education of her own. Lacking a college education, she said that evidently "the Lord was guiding me through" as she learned there was a newly formed weekend program being offered at Barton College in Wilson.

With both children in school, she decided to enroll. She was 31 years old.

"I didn't have SAT scores or transfer credits or anything," she said. "But they accepted me into the program."

Husband Scott became "weekend baby-sitter," he said.

"When she took night classes, I didn't like the idea of her riding back and forth by herself. We would all go, including the two kids, drop her off, go get some barbecue, go to a movie, pick her up and come back home," he said.

Her third year in the program, Mrs. Hines became pregnant again. Delivering Mykayla, now 11, accounted for the only time she would be absent.

"I had a caesarian, so I picked a weekend I didn't have classes, so I didn't have to miss much," she said.

Juggling motherhood with a job as teacher assistant, she maintained a 3.37 grade point average. In 1998, she received her bachelor's degree.

Her first position was at Brogden Middle School, where she taught sixth grade. In 2000, when Mykayla started school, she transferred to Brogden Primary. She taught third grade for two years before taking on a fourth-grade class.

The notion of becoming a principal was somewhat unexpected.

"I was happy teaching, (I thought) I could never be a principal," she said. "But then I got bossed around. I don't like to be bossed around, evidently."

With a college loan to repay, she learned she could defer that if she returned to school.

"I thought that would be too much and work, too," she said. But then she heard about the Principal Fellow program.

She applied for the program in the 2003-04 school year, but did not get accepted.

"From the application, I learned that I didn't have enough good stuff in to make myself look good," she said.

So she set out to prove herself.

"In the next couple of years, I started doing things -worked with the principal, applied for grants for the school, became a team leader, led various committees, headed the summer school a couple of years. All of this benefited me when I filled out the application last year," she said.

It paid off. The acceptance letter came in the mail on March 31, the day before Mrs. Hines' birthday.

Hines intercepted the mail when he arrived home early.

"I thought, 'How can I make this special?'" he said. With letter in hand, he enlisted the help of the assistant principal in breaking the news.

"I thought we'd call Terry on the intercom, call her to the office," he said. "She said, 'I can do better than that' and called all the fourth grade teachers and students to the cafeteria. They all thought they were in trouble for something."

"You know that the assistant principal doesn't come on the intercom in the middle of teaching and call you to the cafeteria ASAP," Mrs. Hines said.

The public announcement served two purposes, Hines said. It recognized his wife's personal accomplishment, while sending students the message that "if you work real hard, this is what can happen to you," he said.

Mrs. Hines will now take a two-year leave of absence -- June 13 is her last day as a teacher -- in preparation for the next step in her career.

Her feelings are mixed, she admits. There is some apprehension, but mostly an excitement about continuing to work with children.

"They are the reason behind it," she said. "As a teacher, I can affect only so many lives.

"I see myself as a principal, being more involved in the lives of children, getting what they need and having a chance at a successful life."

Being a teacher has been rewarding, although challenging at times, "especially with all our new laws of testing," she said.

And while she might not have taken the traditional route to get there, she said she has enjoyed cultivating some good ideas along the way. She said she hopes to one day work with students considered at-risk.

"I just think that I could do well for them. My goal is not so much for the schools per se with the upper level kids. I'm looking at the at-risk kids so that they can get out, be successful and do something one day," she said.