Charlena Hunt became a classroom teacher and assumed that’s where she would stay until the end of her career. The thought of moving into a leadership role never crossed her mind, but those around her had different ideas.
“When I received my first teaching position my dad said, ‘Well ok, now when are you going to become a principal?’,” said Hunt. “At that time, I did not imagine becoming a principal, but my dad planted that seed and I decided to water it and let it grow.”
Hunt’s education career began in 2002 as a paraprofessional in Cleveland. She moved on to teach special education and then second and third grade. In 2006, she was hired at Pinnacle Academy as the in-school suspension teacher. Just 45 days after her hire, they needed a sixth-grade science and English language arts teacher.
For the next seven years Hunt would be a classroom teacher, teacher lead for National Heritage Academies (NHA), and teach at a local college. In 2013 the call came to be a part of the leadership team, as a dean.
The jump from teacher to dean can be daunting for some, and Hunt recognized that it would not be easy or without challenges.
“I truly believe the jump from teacher to dean is the hardest,” Hunt said. “You have to redefine your entire role in the school and your relationships. Those who were colleagues are now directly reporting to you. It took some time to wear both the dean hat and the friend hat to those coworkers I considered close friends. It helped that my colleagues respected me and my position, so I am forever grateful for a smooth transition.”
In December of 2016, Hunt was asked to lead the school, but this time as principal.
“Even though principal was never on my radar, I love this role,” Hunt said. “This is in part to the support NHA provides at all levels and the two former principals I had the opportunity to shadow as a dean. I would just keep asking questions until they showed me how it was done.”
Now entering her first full school year as principal, Hunt knows that the shift from dean to principal also includes some adjustment.
“I learned quickly how to delegate and not take on things that are someone else’s job,” Hunt said. “Having an amazing group of deans, that I trust immensely, and great support from my director of school quality, as well as a support system at home, really helps me thrive in this position.”
Hunt’s commitment to NHA runs deep, she is thankful for the support, professional development, and coaching she’s received over the years to help her become a successful building leader.
When asked what advice she’d give to those looking to become principals:
“Develop your skills, put yourself out there, and take advantage of every professional development and leadership opportunity that comes your way,” Hunt said. “Develop your mindset just as hard as your skills.”
The Role She Never Knew She Wanted--Pinnacle's Principal Hunt
Published: Nov 06, 2017Katie Baker
Katie is a passionate public relations specialist with a dedicated interest in education. In her role at NHA, Katie works to promote school events and student achievement to the community.
Articles by Katie
Published: Jan 31, 2018