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North Gwinnett principal loves his job

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman North Gwinnett principal Ed Shaddix monitors the halls after school on Tuesday afternoon. Shaddix has been at the school for four years.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman North Gwinnett principal Ed Shaddix monitors the halls after school on Tuesday afternoon. Shaddix has been at the school for four years.

SUWANEE -- Ed Shaddix sees the big picture.

He sees meshing personalities, a breakdown of responsibilities, the complexity of each role.

Shaddix loves the "enormity" of his job as principal at North Gwinnett High School, overseeing the facility and the people who work there.

"I enjoy trying to put all the pieces together to make it function," Shaddix said. "I thrive on that. I love it."

In his fourth year at the high school's helm, Shaddix, 39, feels lucky to be an educational administrator in a town like Suwanee.

"I like the community here," he said. "Suwanee has been able to maintain the sense of community despite its rapid growth in recent years, and that's hard to do, to know your past but at the same time look at your future."

The feeling of community extends into each and every classroom, he said.

"Kids are proud to say they go to North Gwinnett High School," he said. "They're proud to say they're a Bulldog. The sense of ownership is overwhelming, and I don't use the term 'ownership' lightly."

It's that sense of ownership that has made students strive for success and community involvement, he said.

Last year, teachers administered 2,200 advanced placement exams, handed out more than $13 million in scholarship money not including HOPE and the senior class accumulated more than 55,000 hours of community service.

Shaddix also brags on the arts programs, athletics and 109 clubs and activities for students to join.

"We encourage involvement," he said. "Kids that are plugged in do better in school. They're more active and more motivated."

Shaddix attributes the success of students at the school to the overall North Gwinnett Cluster.

"The results we get at North Gwinnett High School are great, but it's not all North Gwinnett High School. It's the elementary school and it's the middle school that allow us to do what we do," he said. "If we weren't getting the raw materials we get in the ninth grade we couldn't produce the AP numbers and test scores that we do."

Setting and keeping the bar high is a tough task, but Head of Curriculum Liz Rieken said Shaddix is the man for the job.

"He always puts the kids first, and he has an excellent way of communicating with them as well as with the teachers," Rieken said.

Part of his success lies in "the confidence he has in his staff to make good decisions," Rieken said.

"He sets the direction, but he lets the teachers use their skills," she added.

Student Matheus Mauricio, 18, said Shaddix has "incredible" leadership skills.

"He is a great model for all the people of North Gwinnett High School," Mauricio said. "I admire that."

Discipline Coordinator Brad Siegfried agreed.

"(Shaddix) gives you the freedom to do your job, but then he also asks for input on decisions about where the school is headed," Siegfried said.

"He tries to include everybody that is involved in the school: students, custodians, teachers and parents," Siegfried said. "He tries to get input from all of them and make the best decision from what they've given him."

Rieken chimed in: "I think the entire staff really appreciates him as a leader and colleague, and that's very exciting going forward with North Gwinnett. He's the perfect leader for us."

His desire to be in a leadership position goes back to his days of teaching and coaching at Shiloh High School in 1995.

"When I started education I wanted to be a head football coach," Shaddix said. "Through chance and luck I was afforded some opportunities to get into administration through the athletic director's route."

Shaddix said he was offered a job as head football coach at the time. "When I didn't take the job, I knew the avenue I wanted was administration and being a principal. I felt like could do more in that role than as a head football coach."

He worked at Shiloh High School for 11 years, spent two years at Dacula High School as an assistant principal and came to North Gwinnett High School in 2008 to take the helm.

Shaddix feels that being the principal means putting trust in the people you hire to do the job right.

"When you hire quality, competent people to do a job, give them the structure and the tools necessary to do that job, you will have good results," he said.

"My job is to help set North Gwinnett High School's vision, create the atmosphere for that vision to take place and give the necessary tools to do that."

Shaddix is working toward a doctorate at Liberty University. He and his wife, Brooke, have been married for 15 years. They have two children, Payton, 14, and Nick, 9.