Orange County Schools recently named Tony Widder as principal of Cameron Park Elementary School.
Widder was previously the principal of the Middle School at the International Community School (Singapore) for two years before returning to Orange County with his family. He is working alongside school administration this summer to prepare to the upcoming 2018-19 school year.
Though Widder was raised in Ohio, he and his family have called Orange County home for the last 12 years, albeit the 2-year stent overseas.
Widder has administrative experience working with both elementary and middle school levels. Prior to his principalship in Singapore, he was the assistant principal at Mary Scroggs Elementary School in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district. Widder earned his Bachelor of Science at Kent State University in Ohio before eventually gaining his Masters of School Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.
With a repertoire qualifying him for this new role, Widder is simply eager to begin the new school year and meet the students that make up the Cameron Park family.
“Having spent 4 years in an elementary school as an administrator before, I just love elementary education,” he said. “The students are so excited to learn, so curious about the world around them and to be a part of that learning and growth for them is so exciting.”
This new role at Cameron Park is not the first time Widder walked the hall of Cameron Park. In completing his principal internship as part of his masters degree, Widder walked the halls of Cameron Park alongside the university internship supervisor, Dr. Julie Vandiver, who was also principal of Cameron Park at the time. Six years later, he still feels the excitement of walking these halls and classrooms filled with bright-eyed students.
“Just seeing how amazing place this was, how passionate the teachers were and how engaged the students were, I could just tell that this was a special learning community,” Widder said. “So when the opportunity arose, I was definitely excited about the potential here.”
After his time in education in Singapore, Widder believes that experience has made him a stronger educator.
“To work with students and teachers from all over the world, you’re exposed to so many new things and learn so much,” he said. "Not only just about cultures, but about perspectives and different ways of doing things.”
Working in an international school is a big contrast against public education in the United States, Widder said, and during his time there, the school added an innovative technology program. This program allowed students to gain programming experience through building and programming robots. This type of education focused on the terms often used in education: creation, collaboration, and communication. Widder hopes to bring a similar energized learning environment to Cameron Park.
He also looks forward to having his two daughters, one in kindergarten and the other 4th grade, learning at Cameron Park.
“Our family is really excited to be joining this community,” he said. “I’ve definitely felt warmly welcomed already … We’re all very excited to be Tigers.”