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Fairfax Elementary School Principal Beth Chandler took over the job this summer after 27 years in education in Georgia. --Dustin Duncan

Chandler takes over as Fairfax Elementary School principal

VALLEY — The new Fairfax Elementary Principal plans to improve literacy among her students.

Beth Chandler was hired in May by the Chambers County Board of Education after 27 years as a special education teacher, assistant principal and principal in Carroll County, Georgia.

She has spent the past six years as a principal at Glanton-Hindsman Elementary School until her retirement in May. However, she said if there was a job in Alabama where she felt she could make a difference in a community, she would continue her career.

“When they brought me to tour the school, it seemed like a place I wanted to be,” Chandler said.

After she accepted the job, she relocated to West Point.

Chandler said the strong tradition at Fairfax, coupled with a community that is filled with people who have pride in their hometown.

“I just felt like this is a place where I could make a difference,” she said.

That community feel and support for the school has a significant impact on teachers and students.

“For one thing, when the teachers feel valued and support the teachers, they are going to work harder at their job,” Chandler said. “That then filters down to students and parents.”

As principal, Chandler feels it is her job to inspire teachers and push them to be the best they can be in the classroom.

“We already have great leaders here, but I feel like it is my job every day to do the best they can,” she said. “I will push them and provide them a collaborative environment to plan together.”

She said collaborative planning is an area where Fairfax Elementary can grow, adding that several teachers used to plan classes on their own.

“I want them to plan together, so it is a strong curriculum for all of us,” she said.

Writing and reading is a strong area of focus under Chandler’s leadership. She said the school is keeping its library and media center open more hours of the day. She said she wants to increase the circulation of materials being checked out and increase students’ love for learning.

“We want the library to be the hub of the school,” Chandler said.

She said the focus has to start at the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten levels. She said one of the biggest challenges is finding the difference between a teacher’s highest and lowest student.

“As a kindergarten teacher, you will have students who can come in reading, and there will be students who don’t know what a letter is,” Chandler said. “We have some who are almost non-verbal, so we have to take them as high as we can.”

She said she expects Fairfax Elementary to be fully staffed with technology by the end of September, meaning every student has access to technology.

Chandler said Fairfax Elementary is also bringing back the school’s Hornets’ mascot.

“We want to bring that tradition back,” she said.