Priscilla Cole, Dunwoody High School’s new principal, said at an Oct. 10 meet-and-greet that she is excited to join a new community and said one of her goals will be to learn students’ names and connect with the students.
“I’m looking forward to becoming part of a new family,” said Cole at the event in the school’s auditorium, which about 75 people attended. “I believe in being in the classrooms and being in the whole school. It is my goal to get to know students.”
Cole officially takes the job on Oct. 16. She was most recently an assistant principal at Centennial High School in Roswell, a Fulton County public school that is similar in size to Dunwoody High at around 2,000 students. Cole was named assistant principal of the year in Fulton’s Northeast Learning Community.
She will replace Tom McFerrin, who announced in July he would resign to take a new job as the district’s Career Technical and Agricultural Education coordinator. McFerrin will remain as Dunwoody High principal until Cole starts her new position.
Cole said that she chose to apply for the principal position because of its diversity.
“I told myself that if I’m going to be a principal, I want to go to a diverse school,” she said. “When the Dunwoody position opened and I read the school’s background, I knew I had to go there.”
Kelly Clinch, the co-president of the PTSO at Dunwoody High, said the organization is looking forward to building a relationship with Cole.
“We are very happy to begin working with Ms. Cole,” Clinch said in an email. “She brings strong leadership experience and a passion for students to this role, and we are excited to see what the future brings for Dunwoody High School in this new chapter.”
Stephen Green, superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, said at an Oct. 4 Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce luncheon that having a new principal at Dunwoody High will usher in “the next era” at the school.
“Dunwoody is at a very important crossroad right now,” Green said. “[McFerrin] has left a powerful legacy and brought the school to new heights. It’s time for the next era.”
Cole said she knows that McFerrin was well-liked in the school and community, and she hopes to build on that relationship.
“I give respect to him for being a great leader. He’s going to be missed,” she said. “I’m excited to build on those relationships with the community.”
A student at the meet and greet expressed a concern that smaller programs and initiatives that are funded by private sources could lose funding in McFerrin’s departure. McFerrin’s relationship with the private donors is what keeps some programs funded, such as fine arts initiatives, the student said.
Cole said she would ensure programs that benefit students are protected.
She noted her experience connecting with community through initiatives she piloted at Centennial High, including a program that provides information to real estate agents so they will encourage new residents to send their children to the school. Cole also launched a program that met regularly with the local business community, she said.
“It all starts with discussion and being open to having conversations, and then seeing if there are ways we can work together,” Cole said.
When asked what she believed her colleagues at Centennial High would say about her, she said they would say she always supported initiatives that would help students.
“If it was best for students and the teachers were on board, I would do it,” she said.