There’s a new principal in town at Melrose Avenue Elementary School, and she is extremely pleased to be in her new position at the school, which is “absolutely” a good fit for the 30-year educator.
Stephanie Harris started at Melrose Elementary at the beginning of the school year after serving as principal at 54th Street Elementary School and Short Avenue Elementary School, both of which are Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools.
“I am loving being at Melrose,” Harris said “It is a phenomenal community. I’ve never seen such parent support. They really support the kids. They support the teachers. The teachers are very, very hardworking and very dedicated to the school and the children. The children are wonderful. It’s a great place to be.”
An Inglewood native, Harris started her education career as a teacher’s aide at Canfield Crescent Heights Community School, which later became Community Magnet Charter School. Later, she taught language arts and social studies to middle school children within the Moreno Valley Unified School District for approximately 10 years.
When asked if she missed teaching, Harris didn’t hesitate in answering “yes.” But she appreciates serving in an administrative role as well.
“And I think that’s the thing that’s enjoyable about being a principal, is that you’re so close to the classroom and you’re so connected with the kids that I still feel like I’m a teacher,” she added.
A resident of the Windsor Hills area, Harris said she has a background in instructional technology, which should serve her well at Melrose Elementary, an Apple Distinguished School.
“I’d really like to kind of push the technology envelope,” she said. “There’s so much creativity and so much energy and so much innovation that’s going on here that I just kind of want to continue that path.”
She referenced an upcoming coding challenge, which she said is a perfect fit for the school, where students learn elements of the engineering design process.
“I see that as an opportunity to really share what they’ve learned,” Harris said.
She also hopes to further promote project-based learning activities at Melrose Elementary. Harris said the cross-curricular exercises make lessons relevant to the students and to the community.
She said the school “really engages” in project-based learning, which is of benefit to the students. The projects offer freedom for students, who can take an idea or thought in “so many directions,” Harris said.
“They’re willing to investigate anything. They’re willing to study anything,” she added. “They always have the question, ‘Why is it this way? What would happen if?’ So when you allow them to explore those questions, you get some really interesting projects.”
Further, Harris said she wants to ensure that Melrose Elementary students are always achieving.
“I’m really interested in proficiency and their reading and language arts. I love writing, and so I’m always interested in making sure that we’re improving our writing,” she said, adding that she likes to connect writing lessons to other subjects. Harris said the Common Core Standards are geared more toward nonfiction reading. “That really fits in cross-curricular, thematic instruction.”
Harris replaced former principal Bernadette Lucas, who was promoted to help with the district’s Common Core Technology Project, its 1-to-1 iPad initiative.
“It’s really a great opportunity to move some of the strategies that we’ve used here at Melrose onto the larger scale of LAUSD. So, we’re very, very proud of her,” Harris said.
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