Central Middle School senior secretary Susan Hayes shows a schedule to new CMS Principal Shan Green.
July 1 was the first day on the job for new Central Middle School Principal Shan W. Green.
But she was in a very familiar environment. Green, 41, had spent the last year preparing for the job under the tutelage of former Principal Dr. Darren T. Guido, who recently was named supervisor of instruction for grades 5 - 12 for the Capital School District.
Studying under Guido, who was Delaware’s 2012 Middle Level Principal of the Year, was a real treat, Green said.
“He’s just amazing,” she said. “Everything he does is for the kids and with good instruction in mind. There’s nothing he does that there’s not a reason for.”
That’s a legacy Green plans to continue.
“There’s a great team in place at Central Middle, and I’m lucky to have that team to work with,” she said.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Green spent her first years contentedly in the small nearby city of Greensburg with her sister and single mom. Suddenly, just before starting 10th grade, her mother decided they needed a change and uprooted the family, transporting them to West Palm Beach, Fla.
“She had decided she would take herself on a trip to Europe,” Green said. “She came home and said, ‘We’re moving. There’s a big world out there and we shouldn’t stay here.’”
Initially loath to leave her familiar surroundings, Green none the less fell in love with the Sunshine State.
“At first, it was scary, but it didn’t take too long before we loved it,” she said. “I used to say I was from Pennsylvania; now I tell people I’m from Florida.”
That move seemed to be the catalyst for Green’s desire to take different paths in her life.
After high school, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, with a certificate in ethnic studies in 1997, and went to work at an alternative school for girls. Although classed as a social worker position, she soon found herself mentoring troubled girls, including some who had been in prison, helping them learn the skills necessary to succeed in life.
“While I was doing that, I realized what I was doing was teaching, and I thought I’d have a greater impact in the classroom, working with kids on their education,” she said.
Green went back to school to earn her teaching certificate and found a position in the Palm Beach County middle school system. Although she was credentialed in social studies, because Florida at the time allowed it, she taught English to students after receiving certification for special education.
Green stayed there for three years, but moved to the county’s elementary school to teach special education reading and math when her youngest daughter was old enough to start kindergarten.
“I was having a hard time letting go, so I decided we’d go together,” she said.
The year 2004, however, proved a turning point for Green and her children, when they decided they had to leave Florida.
“I’d lived in Florida for 18 years without getting hit by a hurricane,” she said. “Then in 2004 we got hit by two in one season.
“After that, we thought it would be a good time for find somewhere else to live.”
“My ex had a cousin who lived in Milton and he said he had a trailer we could stay in until we got situated,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Come to Delaware. You guys will love it.’”
‘I’m excited, I really am’
Green and her children arrived in Milton in January 2005, right in the middle of a blizzard.
Despite that inauspicious start, Green was hired at the Positive Outcomes Charter School, where she taught high school English for two years and was the school’s special education coordinator for a third year. She graduated from Delaware State University in 2009, earning a master’s degree in special education.
Looking for a greater challenge, she was hired at the Capital School District, where she worked case management at Dover High School and again taught special education English.
In 2012, Green was one of more than 100 teaching professionals who applied to the Delaware Leadership Project, a management program designed to groom future school principals.
According to the project’s website, the program only accepts educators deemed ready for leadership positions, and graduates must agree to a three-year commitment as principal of a high-needs school.
One of only six teachers selected for the training, Green underwent an intensive five-week summer program and a 10-month residency with Guido as her mentor.
Guido said he “thoroughly enjoyed” working with Green this year.
“As with any new position, there is a learning curve, but having completed a yearlong residency with me, Ms. Green has lived the life of the building principal at Central Middle School,” he said.
“This makes her uniquely qualified to take on that role, to make Central Middle School her own and to continue the path that the school is on.
“I am looking forward to watching her continue to grow as a school and instructional leader throughout the school year,” he said.
“This past year has been wonderful,” Green said. “I have learned so much under Dr. Guido’s guidance. He has done some amazing things in this school.”
The principalship at Central Middle is a big job, but not an intimidating one. Green feels she’s up to the challenge.
Her focus will be ensuring the CMS student body continues to move forward, particularly the special education students.
“Our special education children are not growing as much as we’d like them to if we want them to be good readers and good mathematicians when they graduate,” she said. “I think that’s a good area for me to hone in on since my background is there. I think I can offer the teachers and departments a good deal of support and make sure the students get what they need when they need it.”
The future looks good, Green said.
“There’s a great team there at Central Middle, a lot of people who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work’” she said. “I’m excited, I really am.”