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A new role: Lanier principal prepares for school opening

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

SUGAR HILL -- Sixteen years ago, Kerensa Wing helped open Collins Hill High School as a social studies teacher and girls basketball coach.

This year, Wing is preparing to open another high school -- this time as principal.

"Now the to-do lists are much longer," Wing said with a laugh. "It's a totally different perspective, because I have to see the big picture and globally. I'm not just starting my own program."

Wing served as an assistant principal at Collins Hill High School from 2002 until January, when she became principal of Lanier High School. She was the first assistant principal chosen by Gwinnett County Public Schools to open a high school.

"I think one of the advantages is it has allowed me time to grow into the position before the students got here," said Wing, who began her career in education at Shiloh High School in 1990.

With less than a month before students arrive -- school starts Aug. 9 -- Wing is working almost nonstop to work through the details of opening a new school.

"We're making sure we have all the procedures down ... and trying to catch any glitches," she said.

One thing that helped prepare her for the role was completing the school system's Quality-Plus Leader Academy, a training program for aspiring principals. The program contains seven curriculum strands and engages participants in several performance-based team activities.

"It gave us a global picture of what a principal does," Wing said. "It was good preparation for the role."

She said she also keeps the numbers of Archer principal Buck Buchanan and Mountain View principal Keith Chaney close by. Both opened their schools last year, and Wing said they have been invaluable resources.

Wing said she's also received support from the existing schools that will be part of Lanier cluster -- Lanier Middle School, Sugar Hill Elementary, Sycamore Elementary and White Oak Elementary. For example, Lanier Middle School held a fundraiser that generated enough money for the high school to have a gym floor installed.

It's those types of unique experiences that Wing said she really appreciates -- working with the community to select the Longhorns logo, picking out the school's colors of Texas orange, white and black and designing the school crest.

"I'm just excited to be able to create an educational opportunity for the Lanier community," she said. "Every day is kind of a new adventure."