Khalilah Tate is in her first full week as principal of Marshall Elementary School. Tate took over the position after former principal Fletcher Harges took a principal position at Greenwood High School, ironically where Tate is from.
She said her first day was July 1 and she’s settling in after attending the Mississippi Association of School Superintendent Conference. Tate said she has some pretty big shoes to fill. “Dr. Harges was here for five years and he previously moved the school to a successful level, so yeah there are some big shoes to fill,” she said.
But, right now, her objective is to move her students from one level to the next. Tate said she would love to see Marshall Elementary named as an A school but she’s more concerned on targeting where a student is having problems and moving them from one area to the next.
“When we do that, then our school will become the A school we want to be,” she said. Tate added that when a student is growing academically, behaviorally and socially in a positive manner, it shows.
Tate, who worked as the Literacy Coach for two years at Marshall before becoming principal said the transition hasn’t been as bad as she thought.
“I was the Coach so I was in their classrooms a lot,” she said. “So, I was already in a leadership position before becoming principal. But, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. It was overwhelming at first but I’m very excited. The transition has went really smoothly.”
She said she sat down with her teachers and staff and asked them what they wanted to see and different activities they wanted to do.
“We’re implementing PBIS –Positive Behavior Interventions and Support – and we’re doing our PBIS store again, we’re having a Marshall Dance Team, Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts, we’re going to have the Spelling Bee annually and Beta Club,” Tate said. She said she’s also finding ways to motivate her teachers.
She said they implemented leadership teams where teachers will meet and collaborate with each other and every teacher has to teach the same standard at the same time. The goal is for teachers to share ideas with each other and work together.
“That way the third grade teacher and the fourth grade teacher can collaborate with each other and unpack those standards” she said. “Last year, we had one teacher teaching one standard and one teacher teaching another standard.” Tate also said it will be data driven and backed by evidence and research.
She also said she has a meeting planned with the President of the Marshall PTO and the Leadership team to ask what they want to see implemented.
“We’re going to go over the school calendar to see where we can collaborate,” she said. Tate said she wants to get all stakeholders – students, faculty, staff, teachers, parents and the community involved to see what they want to see happen.
“We’re also going to have a shared mission and goal for the school,” she said. Tate said she and teachers will also go over schoolwide goals, things they want to accomplish for the year.
Tate is a 1997 graduate of Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood. She then went on to attend Alcorn State University where she obtained a degree in General Studies. Tate said she went back to Mississippi Valley State University where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She then obtained an Educational Leadership degree from the University of Mississippi.
She taught 14 years in the Leflore County School District. “I taught 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and I briefly taught 2nd,” she said. Tate said after she obtained her educational leadership degree, the Literacy Coach position became available and she applied.
“I was offered the job and I’ve been here two years,” she said. Tate said she’s excited to work with an amazing team of teachers and is looking forward to working with students, teachers and the community.
As a way to kick off the year, students will see positive affirmations on the doors of the bathroom stalls. “It was one of the things the teachers wanted to see implemented,” she said. Tate said it’s a positive motivation for the students.