After 15 years of working in Hamilton County schools, Gail Huffstutler will begin this school year a little bit differently.
Not only will it be her first year at East Ridge Elementary, it'll be her first year stepping into the role of principal.
"My personal vision [for this school] is that I want to see learners and leaders, both student and adults, have an opportunity to shine," she said. "Obviously we are striving for academic excellence, but we also want to teach the whole child."
Before becoming principal at East Ridge Elementary, Huffstutler served as the assistant principal at Bess T. Shepherd Elementary, as a teacher and literacy coach at Brown International Academy and as a teacher at Westview and Alpine Crest Elementary schools. Although she is new to the East Ridge community, she said she is looking forward to getting to know new faces across the city.
"The community in this area has been so welcoming," she said. "The teachers have been wonderful and we've already had several churches either call to see if we need anything or send us a note to tell us they're praying for us."
When she's not at school Huffstutler said she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and husband, who is a teacher. Her hobbies include reading and traveling to the beach anytime she gets a chance.
As students prepare to come to school and get ready to meet her in the halls, Huffstutler said she hopes they won't be intimidated by her.
"I always try to look on the bright side and look for a positive outcome of a situation," she said. "I want the kids to know I'm here to support them."