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Tammy Shadd, right, was recently named principal of Pierce Terrance Elementary School on Fort Jackson. Shadd is formerly an administrative officer for both Pierce Terrace and C.C. Pinckney elementary schools. She's seen here with Pierce Terrance secretary Kristy Thasher.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Pierce Terrace Elementary School's new principal is no stranger to Fort Jackson.

Tammy Shadd has been working for the school district since 2010 as an administrative officer for both Pierce Terrace and C.C. Pinckney elementary schools. She was recently named principal of Pierce Terrace.

"It truly feels like family," she said of Fort Jackson's
education community. "Some schools are just great places to work and have positive cultures. But there's a difference between a positive culture and a family-oriented culture, like we have here. The transition has gone smoothly because the parents and staff have been so very warm and supportive. I feel very welcome here."

Shadd was born in Midland, Texas, and spent much of her childhood in the South.

"My family moved around quite a bit," she said. "Both my parents are educators, and I swore I'd never go into education. But I was actually at a basketball camp one summer in my junior year at Winthrop University. When it was time for the camp to end, I realized I didn't want it to stop. I didn't want to go back to those business courses ... I actually wanted to work with children."

At that point, she said she changed career directions and began work on a master's degree in teaching. Her first job was at Irmo High School while still a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, working as a teacher's assistant and coach.

"I've been a school teacher, a coach, an assistant principal and principal in the public school system," she said.

As a former administrative officer for Fort Jackson schools, she's already familiar with the programs and policies in place within the school district. She even designed the evacuation maps on display inside both of Fort Jackson's schools.

"While the tasks are very different, the administrative officer does a lot of logistical things," Shadd said. "The purpose of the administrative officer is to take some of that paperwork and administrative tasks away from the principal, so that the principal can be around the building and involved in instruction."

Currently, Pierce Terrace is working toward meeting two improvement goals for students, focusing on problem solving and reading comprehension.

"These goals are set by the school," she said. "Students take an assessment called BAS, the Benchmark Assessment System, and we looked at the achievements on those assessments and noticed our students were not at the level we wanted them at. These are the two areas we want them to improve in."

Identifying critical needs for individual students can be a challenge, she said, because the student population is constantly changing. In public schools, it's expected that this year's fourth-grade class will be next year's fifth graders. That's not always a given at a Department of Defense school, she said.

"I think the biggest challenge for us is when new students come in, you may not know for sure where they are, academically," Shadd said. "It may take time to assess where those students are so you can meet their needs."

Schools use the BAS assessment test to gain a better understanding of new students, she said, but the school also has programs in place that help children acclimatize themselves to new environments.

"There's no doubt that there are challenges for these students because they are moving quite a bit," Shadd said. "And there are even challenges socially ... having friends and feeling like they fit in. That's why this school is very family oriented. It has to be, so we can help students overcome those feelings."

A counselor and classroom guidance are also available to evaluate student needs.

"We also have different activities the students are involved in, like after-school clubs," she said. "We try to get them involved so that they're not just here for school, they actually have things they can do here after school. And it's a fun way to meet their peers and get to know the other students here."

Shadd is the mother of four girls, ages 3 to 10. Her husband is a lawyer.

Page last updated Thu October 31st, 2013 at 14:06