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Education Board deals with promotions and transfers, updates to policy manual, annual retreat and other matters

By Bree Collar, Sentinel Staff Writer

Monday, Jan. 13 West Fannin Elementary School opened under new leadership, with Alison Danner as principal.

The Fannin County Board of Education met Jan. 7 unanimously agreeing to hire Danner for the new position as well as reviewing a number of suggested policy updates and their schedule for the annual board retreat Jan. 9.

Danner’s husband, Assistant Superintendent Darren Danner was removed from the decision making process as members of district leadership and the WFES School Governance team reviewed applicants and made their suggestion to the board.

Danner replaces former principal Lucas Roof who will now serve as director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education (CTAE) and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) for the entire school system. She will be joined by Assistant Principal Debby Decubellis.

Working in the education profession for almost 21 years, Danner has spent more than 18 years at WFES. She began as a kindergarten teacher, followed by opportunities to teach first, third and fourth grade. Most recently she served as assistant principal with Roof as principal.

As many students do, after college Danner switched her career interest from the medical field to teaching when her work as a case manager for children in foster care made her realize she needed to find a job where the biggest impact could be made on children.

“Education is the one tool we can give students to change their lives,” Danner said. With a near two decade commitment to WFES students, teachers and staff, as principal Danner plans to ensure the success of students as a top priority.

Having served as a teacher and assistant principal, she has seen the increased depth and rigor for student understanding evolve. “We are no longer teaching our students to simply go through the motions of completing assignments, but to have an understanding of the importance of these skills and knowledge of what they are learning,” Danner said.

According to Danner, students are developing into critical thinkers and “as educators, we must give them the ability to solve problems in real life.” Along with learning, developing relationships is crucial to identifying the individual needs and meeting them where they are to ensure success in learning.

“My ultimate goal is for each student to feel and understand that they are each loved, cared for and are important to members of our school,” she said.
Danner was witness to the development of STEM at WFES, watching the increase in students level of learning. Her vision is to

The Fannin County Board of Education recognized the newest principal in the system, Alison Danner, front 2nd from left, and welcomed her to the leadership role.
continue to grow STEM education and add the art component with STEAM and obtain official state certification.

As principal, Danner said building relationships with stakeholders and community partners is critical. She plans to continue providing staff with quality professional learning that enhances instruction, all while supplying them with tools to meet the needs of all students.

She said, “WFES has had many successes over the past several years. I want to continue with this foundation that has already been set. Not only do I want to continue, but am anxious to take it to the next level.”

Having once attended West Fannin when it was a junior high school, then serving as a teacher makes Danner the prime candidate for continuing the successes of the school.

“These individuals are my family and over the years, with the relationships I established with many of the parents and students of West Fannin, they have also become family,” Danner said.

In other matters, the board was presented with a number of proposed revisions to the Board of Education Policy Manual in a video prepared by Director of Instructional Services & Policy Sarah Welch.

“Maintaining accurate and up-to-date policies is vital to the effective performance of a Board of Education,” Welch said in a memo presented to Fannin School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney.

The last policy review of the full manual occurred 13 years ago, in 2007. While policies have been adopted, revised and abolished, a review of the entire manual had not taken place until now.

A representative of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) as well as legal representation from Harbin, Hartley and Hawkins Law firm gave advice during the policies review.

Gwatney recommended tabling the issue so the board can review the more than 66 pages of documentation that amassed, with additional suggested policy adoptions and removals presented at the Thursday monthly meeting.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel & Administration Robert Ensley presented the board with the agenda of their annual retreat set for last Thursday before the monthly meeting.

Every year boards of education take a retreat to visit schools in the system to evaluate decisions being made for operation of a successful school system.

The day was set to begin with lunch at Fannin County High School along with tours of FCHS, WFES and Blue Ridge Elementary school. They also visited the Fannin County Court House to see the FCHS Mock Trial Team in action, followed by a visit to the E-Sports club.

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