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Ready to listen

Polo Ridge Elementary welcomes new principal

by Morgan Smith

Nizy John always knew she wanted to be an educator. Even from the age of two, her parents said it was her calling and a dream she held on to ever since.

John recently started her new principal position at Polo Ridge Elementary School Monday, July 2, where she’s not only playing the role of principal, but also secretary.

“I’m really learning on the job because no one is here to help me,” John said. “I’m really getting into it – talking with parents and meeting teachers here and there,” and emailing back and forth, John added.

While staff and students are on summer break, and the school’s secretary is on vacation, John is busy at the school learning the ins and outs of the job, setting up meetings with teachers and communicating with parents, mostly preparing to listen.

John, who is originally from India, earned her masters in school administration and curriculum and instruction from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and teaching degree from Titus II Teachers College in India. She earned a bachelor of arts in English literature from St. Berchmans’ College, also in India.

John began her teaching career in India, where she taught English to eighth- and ninth-graders. There, she found that Indian schools were changing, making the curriculum more like American school systems, preparing John for her 2001 move to the United States.

After attending William and Mary, John and her husband ended up in Charlotte, where she interned at First Ward Elementary School in Uptown.

In 2004, John took the assistant principal position at David Cox Road Elementary School in northeast Charlotte.

“That was a basic school – I really fell in love with the whole philosophy – making sure parents were involved, students were inspired and the community involved,” John said.

In 2010, John took another assistant principal position at Ballantyne Elementary School.

She says it’s those experiences with different leaders that have prepared her for her new position.

“I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with several principals with different leadership styles. You work with different people and everyone has their own style, but picking up different strengths and combining those strengths with my own style really helps,” John said. “Being a teacher, an assistant principal and now a principal… that path has really helped me.”

And now, John said she is ready to immerse herself in Polo Ridge culture.

“The only thing I’m doing right now is listening, reaching out and building relationships. Asking questions, ‘What do you definitely not want to change? What do you want to change?’” John said. “I haven’t formed a vision for this next year because I just want to listen first. It’s all about the kids – I want to work in partnership with everybody” for the best interest of the kids.

Although John doesn’t have a set vision yet, she does have hopes of adding and growing the school’s global and cultural awareness. Growing up in India and also Bahrain, diversity and global awareness is very important to John.

“How do you really make sure kids are learning the global piece and 21st century learning? How do you take them beyond Charlotte, N.C.? That’s something I really want to bring to Polo Ridge,” she said.

Also as an avid gardener, John said she is excited to be a part of the school’s garden program. The school recently installed 13 garden beds, strictly for the growth of vegetables, as well as several other garden beds with flowers and plants to attract butterflies.

But it’s the people she’s most excited about.

“People make me tick, and really keep me ticking,” John said. “When you see the impact you make for teachers or kids and see their reaction, that has really kept me going over the years; just to see they really valued what I did for them. I’m most excited about meeting everybody; just to see them in person and see that passion. And to get started,” she said.

With the help of the school’s parent-teacher group, John will meet with parents in the school’s media center July 23, starting with rising kindergarten through second-grade parents from 9 to 10 a.m. and rising third- through fifth-grade parents from 11 a.m. to noon to help introduce herself. The school is located at 11830 Tom Short Road.

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