Elvina Knight has spent her entire career at Caesar Rodney High School. She spent 20 years in the classroom, three years as dean of students, nine years as assistant principal and has spent the last six years as building principal. She was recently named Delaware’s Secondary Principal of the Year.
Q What kind of process did you have to go through to apply for Principal of the Year?
A It is an application process put out to all administrators. Anyone can apply as long as you have three years of experience. I had to fill out demographics of the school, provide data regarding student performance, then there’s an essay that you respond to with supporting data. Then it goes to Delaware Association of School Administrators. They review the applications and the committee makes its determination based on the applications. You’re also asked to secure letters of recommendation from your superintendent, an administrator you work with, a teacher and a parent or community leader.
Q What program have you implemented that you’re most proud of?
A With the Race to the Top funds that came to the school, we started a freshman academy. It is now in its third year. It was a whole different way of thinking with regard to bringing in a group of teachers that wanted to teach in the academy. We looked at why students were struggling after freshman year. We looked at ways to improve retention rates. This way of working with them in a block and then allowing them to go out in population for electives gave them a sense of how to find their way. It gave them a way to get a feel for what high school is about.
Q Do you have any plans for Caesar Rodney High School in the future?
A To do bigger and better things. We’re always looking at programs that will help students be competitive in a global world and to be career and college ready. What programs can we put together for students to be the best they can be? We’re expanding in world language, looking at new things in regards to technology and online learning. We’re always looking to add additional AP courses. There’s always something we’re looking for.
Q What do you think makes CR a good school?
A I think it’s putting into place programs that support the needs of all students, students who need the most help in the classroom, to students who are taking highest level courses, and providing programs that allow students to have something in place that helps them remediate, enrich or accelerate what they’re doing. If you have that and have support from the administrative team and the district office leadership and teachers then I think you end up with a great program.
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Q What is the next step in the competition?
A In September there is a follow-up in D.C. The state principal awards are from Sept. 18-21. All of the names of state Principal of the Year get turned in and those winners will vie for the national award. I have the opportunity to be one of the finalists for the national award.