When she began her career in education, Heather Iannarelli never thought she would ever be a school principal.
She enjoyed being in the classroom, having also worked as a paraprofessional while in college. But when she was a teacher at Ormond Beach Middle School, her then principal, Carl Persis, saw leadership potential in her, Iannarelli said. It was a scary thought at first — having that responsibility to lead, she said.
“But I went there, and I think I was influenced by my leaders who thought I had the qualities and just had the confidence to do it myself,” Iannarelli said, who has been studying for more than 20 years. years.
The Ormond Beach Observer recently spoke with the new principal of Ormond Beach Middle School about upcoming changes to the middle school format, who has shaped her as principal, and what inspires her.
What do you like most about being a director?
People — Working with children, students and community, families. It’s about seeing how we build the future and doing everything we can to give children the best possible school experience, the learning experience. It’s a safe space and we try to make sure it’s a place where he’s welcoming and where they’re happy to come here.
As we approach the next school year, what are some of the goals you have in mind for OBMS?
The college has exciting things. The entire middle school district is being overhauled.
We come back to the aspect of the team. When they leave elementary school and go to college, it’s a huge change. They go from one, maybe two teachers to now six periods and every teacher is different, and the personalities are different, and they have different behavior management plans, and different ways of teaching, and that’s just a huge change for children. So our people at the district level looked at that and decided, “Hey, maybe we want to consider bringing teamwork back.”
This is supposed to bring the fun back to college, eventually intramural sports, a lot more individual work with students. When I say that, it’s because we’re going to have three teams in the sixth, for example. These 150 children will have the same ELA teacher, the same science teacher, the same social studies teacher and the same math teacher.
So it makes things a little more cohesive for the kids to help the transition to high school a little more [school] while guiding them. At the same time, these teachers will be able to collaborate with each other.
There’s going to be a lot more communication about student well-being, which is great for the college.
We are also implementing what is known as PBIS, ie Positive Behavior Incentive Systems. It’s going to be district-wide in middle school. So it’s a chance for us to really celebrate when they do something good and earn points. It’s gonna be really cool too. Coupled with the team, I think we have a very bright future in college.
Education is always essential. That’s what we’re aiming for, but if we can put in place the positivity and the culture of learning, education is going to hit the nail on the head. It will be so much easier to teach and learn for children.
During the pandemic, children were at home and learning loss was a big concern for parents. How do you hope to solve this problem at OBMS?
We are on the right track to achieve this. We are up from where we were, but we are still not where we would like to be. So we’re a ‘B’ this year, but we want to be a high ‘B’ and then an ‘A’, so we keep shooting up.
We really want to focus on our teaching practices and there are many ways to do that with different strategies and professional development because that’s not just what the students do, it’s also what we do.
Our areas of intervention will concern our ELA and our students with disabilities, as well as our behavior. I think the team and the PBIS are going to be a big help in reducing behavioral issues. This has been a big problem in colleges across the country. This middle school age level, there have been a lot of issues nationally, with respect and the ability to manage conflict, and not just between peers and themselves, but when a child is faced with something that makes him unhappy, how he reacts to it.
Who are the people who have really contributed to making you the principal that you are today?
Of course, Carl Persis was very influential in getting my leadership and training off the ground. Matt Krajewski, he was manager here before, and I was reading coach under him. His leadership style was amazing. He was great with the school culture, but he also kept us focused on our goals to continue to excel.
Jason Watson was an amazing director I worked with at Holly Hill. He was so good at making sure everyone was taken care of, but at the same time we kept moving towards a goal – very similar to Matt.
As a child, who made me want to go to school? I will never forget Courtney Ronca. She was my fifth grade teacher, and she was one of those teachers that was ahead of her time, like with project-based learning, and so energetic and loved her job, and you could tell she loved it and loved children. I strive for every child to have teachers like that.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career that inspires you on a daily basis?
I think the most important thing is that it’s not a solo work. You need to have all your stakeholders and hear everyone’s ideas, plans and concerns, because it really does take a village to raise a child, and we are all influential in that child’s life. So we all need to work together and listen to each other.
What message would you like to convey to the OBMS family?
I want the school to be a positive atmosphere for all, with positive education and culture at the forefront – that their students are safe, that they know they are coming to a safe campus, because it is in the everyone’s heart right now. We provide a safe place for their students to have a positive learning environment.