Orange County Schools recently named the system’s Principal and Assistant Principal of the 2018-19 school year.
Orange High School Principal Eric Yarbrough was named Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of A.L. Stanback Middle School Tenisha Williamson was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
Principal of the Year
Yarborough, who is in his 3rd year at Orange, began his career as a math teacher in the Alamance-Burlington School System. He taught for seven years before he became a middle school assistant principal. In 2012, Yarbrough moved to the Orange County Schools system, joining as an assistant principal at Cedar Ridge High School. He later spent time as assistant principal at Woodlawn Middle School in Mebane. He became principal of Gravelly Hill Middle School before beginning his tenure at Orange High School.
“It’s a honor,” Yarbrough said of the title. “It’s special because you know the caliber of people you work with. It’s kind of unexpected honestly, but I also think it goes back to, anytime you get an award like this, it’s not just because of what you’ve done, it’s because of what a lot of people have done.”
Yarbrough believes that Orange offers an environment that fosters growth and passion.
Teacher working condition surveys have shown high workplace satisfaction, he said, and test scores, graduation rates, and AP course enrollment have increased.
“Those results were really good,” he said of the workplace satisfaction survey. “It makes you feel like people enjoy coming to work, which makes a difference. When teachers enjoy coming to work, students enjoy coming to school and it just creates a good community.”
Assistant Principal of the Year
Though Williamson began her teaching career in Durham Public Schools, she has called Orange County Schools home for almost a decade.
In 2009, she became a pre-kindergarten teacher at Grady A. Brown Elementary School, eventually teaching kindergarten. She was promoted to assistant principal at Grady A. Brown in 2014 and later, Cameron Park Elementary School.
Now, as assistant principal at A.L. Stanback Middle School, Williamson has the opportunity to see students she once taught in kindergarten walk the halls as middle schoolers.
From teacher to administrator, Williamson’s mission has been the same: to form positive relationships with families and students, helping children find their voice in the classroom.
“My favorite part [of my job] is the family piece,” Williamson said. “It’s trying to make sure that I connect with families so I can understand what their family lives are like, what their values are, and how we can connect them from home to school and continue that throughout their career.”
She advocates for students and for their right to be heard, listened to, and respected.
“I think it’s really hard for a child to be able to advocate for themselves and I want to be that person to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to support you through this,’” she said. “I think the biggest thing is, it’s really hard for students or kids to talk to adults and I want to help them push through that piece.”
In her first year at A.L. Stanback, Williamson’s dedication to her students shines.
“I was very honored to be nominated by my peers for the award,” she said. “I went for it not expecting anything and so I was very shocked to be chosen … I am very appreciative to be put into our students’ lives and know their families over the years.”