WEST COLUMBIA, SC -- Megan Carrero, principal at Fulmer MIddle School, was recently honored as one of two finalists selected by the SC Association of School Administrators as 2018 SC Middle Level Principal of the Year.
Carrero began teaching in Lexington Two the day after she finished student teaching -- on April 23, 2003 -- and has been in the district ever since. She has been an administrator for 10 years, spending one year as a part-time administrator/teacher, four as an assistant principal and the past five as a principal.
We talked with Carrero recently about the challenges and rewards of being a principal, the things she can’t live without at Fulmer -- and the best advice she’s ever gotten.
Q: It's been an exciting time over the past couple of weeks at Fulmer. Talk a bit about that.
A: It has been an incredible couple of weeks! I had the opportunity to do a promotional piece with WOLO-TV about our annual Veteran's Day assembly, which was a huge success with more than 50 veterans attending! The University of South Carolina was here filming for a promotional video for the College of Education with Dean Jon Pederson, two associate deans, and the Teaching Fellows campus director, which will highlight our partnership with Teaching Fellows and the Professional Development School Network. We also were redesignated a National School to Watch for the third time since 2011, one of only about 400 middle schools nationwide to do so in that time. It’s all good news!
Q: Tell us about a couple of other happenings at Fulmer that you are excited about.
A: “Aside from the Schools to Watch Redesignation, we are super excited about the Professional Development School Network partnership with USC. Dr. Melissa Baker, our PDS liaison, is working diligently to increase the presence of USC on our campus, as well as her support with our school-wide goals for family engagement.
Q: Being named a finalist for Middle Level Principal of the Year is a recognition of your leadership. How might your teachers and staff describe your leadership style?
A: I’d say collaborative. I am fortunate to be surrounded by experts in how to influence middle school teaching and learning -- including faculty members, students, parents and others. Being collaborative is important to knowing and understanding the climate of our school, so we can lead in a direction that will benefit all of our learners.
Q: What are three things you can't live without as Fulmer's principal.
A: Three things I can't live without at Fulmer:
1. The most fantastic middle school students, who keep me on my toes, encourage me, and bring me joy and laughter.
2. Faculty and staff who embrace all that comes with adolescent learning and development.
3. Cheese grits on Thursday mornings in the cafeteria!
Q: What is the hardest thing about being a principal, and what is the most rewarding?
A: The hardest thing about being a principal is balancing all that comes with the work, from managerial to leadership responsibilities. Most principals want to be the best, so we live with the mindset that everything has to be excellent -- and with that comes stress and sometimes frustration. The most rewarding things about being principal are watching teachers experience success and grow in their personal and professional development; and having students come back years later and talk about their positive experiences at Fulmer, and knowing that you've been part of their success -- and future success.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
A: The best piece of advice I've received as principal is to stay focused on excellence but to stop and appreciate the growth along the way. To always, always keep your eyes on excellence is the hallmark of an effective principal, but one who values growth in the challenge will always be successful.
Q: What advice would you give to young teachers just getting started in the field?
A. You are entering a commitment that is much bigger than yourself, and you will struggle. As a society, we often perceive struggle as negative. I believe that a great deal of learning takes place in the struggle as you grow in the art and science of teaching within your professional practice. You were hired because you have the capacity and desire to be successful, and your desire will be defined by how you overcome struggle on your journey to excellence, as one who has the privilege to influence.