New West/West principal just starting transition from North

       Judy Hawkins, who will become principal of both West Middle School and West Elementary next fall, said this week that she looks forward to the new job but is in the early stages of transitioning into it.
       As the current principal of North Middle School, she described her situation as a “simultaneous juggling act” in which she must also devote time to lead that school and to bring on board her successor (Bryan Relich).
       Hawkins' reassignment was one of 27 for school administrators in a District 11 Board of Education vote April 10. She will replace both Terry Martinez at West Elementary (grades K-5) and Clay Gomez at West Middle (grades 6-8).
       The schools are in one building. Martinez led the district's creation of West Elementary in 2009.
       “I've had the opportunity to embrace the idea and chat a little with each principal,” she elaborated in a phone interview this week, but added, “I have not even been introduced to the staff yet or had a tour of the building.”
       As for the issue of taking over two schools, each with its own entrance, Hawkins agreed that it needs to be addressed. “How does one person do two? That's been shared with me,” she said.
       One of the D-11 reassigments provides Hawkins with an assistant principal at West/West. She is Cheryl DeGeorge, who is currently the academics coordinator at Wasson High. That school will close after this year to make room for a new D-11 alternative-program campus.
       Hawkins said she has been exchanging e-mails with DeGeorge, but explained that when an educator is involved with closing a school it can be very time-consuming.
       Once the school year is over, Hawkins said she will give her new assignment full attention and expects to have her plans in place well before the start of school in August. Her strategizing efforts will include consulting with “senior leadership” in District 11, she added.
       Hawkins has been with the district for 23 years, working as a teacher for her first 12 years. D-11 has previously assigned her as a principal at elementary as well as middle schools. One of her postings was to be principal at Irving Middle School in its last year. She said she found that personally sad, because her own children had attended there.
       This is her third year at North.
       Hawkins said that in her career with the district she has had some background with the SAIL program for gifted students, which makes up close to half of the student body at West.
       She pointed out a little-known connection between her old and new school: North and West were built in the same year (1921) and even have the same floor layouts. Noting half-jokingly that she is “directionally dyslexic,” she said it may initially be confusing to be in a school that looks the same but has everything in different places.
       Martinez will become the principal at Rogers Elementary and Gomez assistant principal at Russell Middle School.

Westside Pioneer article