By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus welcomed a new principal this week in preparation for the upcoming school year.
Principal Joni House said she is excited about her new role at the school.
â€śThe main thing I want to focus on is to build relationships with all the stakeholders involved, including teachers, students and the community,â€ť House said. â€śI want good two-way communication.â€ť
House is originally from Louisiana. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education, with a focus in science and social studies, at Mississippi University for Women, where she played softball. She taught at a Catholic elementary school in Louisiana for one year before getting married and moving back to Starkville.
House has a lot of experience at local elementary schools. She taught first grade at Sudduth Elementary for nine years, and worked as an interventionist at Ward Stewart Elementary for two years.
Last May, she finished her masterâ€™s degree in education administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.
â€śMrs. House reputation as an outstanding educator in the Golden Triangle is well known,â€ť said Karen Overstreet, curriculum coordinator. â€śWe feel blessed to have her join the ACS family. The experience she will bring to the school combined with her energy and enthusiasm will complement the strengths of our strong academic program and lead us to address 21st century skills and ideology.â€ť
â€śMy ultimate goal is to impact student learning and to make a difference in their lives,â€ť House said. â€śWhen they grow up to be adults, I hope they can make decisions based on Christâ€™s teachings.â€ť
House said one of her immediate goals for the school is to increase enrollment, which currently stands at 113 students. Twenty of those students are from Starkville. Hopefully, her goal will be met as the school expands. Last year, they added a seventh grade for the first time. This year, they will add an eighth.
â€śOnce we added a seventh grade last year, parents and faculty wanted to see about adding an eighth grade,â€ť House said. â€śSeventh and eighth grade is a tough time for students. There are a lot of changes going on. We wanted to make those changes a little bit easier for them.â€ť
They will also be continuing to offer arts education in the classroom, which was added last school year. Teachers are encouraged to use art to teach a variety of subjects.
â€śWe will be focusing on educating the whole child, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially,â€ť House said.
Annunciation also recently completed the re-accreditation with The Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools in 2010, marking its 25th year to be accredited with this agency. It is the only non-public school in the area to be accredited by both the Mississippi State Department of Education and SACS.
The school is currently registering for the upcoming school year. Parents interested in scheduling a tour or requesting an application should contact the school office at (662) 328-4479.