G.R. Whitfield School Assistant Principal Mike Casey ‘18MSA went to college to become an engineer. Then he auditioned for the jazz band. What started out as a love of music turned into a love of music education, and he’s been passionate about both teaching and educational leadership ever since.
“Next to great teachers, effective school leaders have the opportunity to make the greatest impact on a child’s educational outcome,” Casey said. “This is multiplied by the number of students in the school.”
His dedication to lifelong learning and making a positive impact led him to earn his Master of School Administration from the NC State College of Education through the Northeast Leadership Academy in 2018. A little more than a year later, he was named Pitt County Schools 2019-2020 Assistant Principal of the Year.
“The staff, students and community were extremely happy for me,” Casey said. “Everyone went out of their way to recognize me and share their congratulations. They even decorated my office. I am really fortunate to have their support.”
The support Casey received from the G.R. Whitfield School community matches the support he shows for the staff and the students. As an assistant principal, he works to support his principal’s instructional vision, and he’s also made it his goal to cut down on instructional time lost due to exclusionary discipline practices.
“Last year we reduced the number of days students spent in in-school suspension by over 40%, and we were on track to make some improvements this year, too,” Casey said.
He keeps an open-door policy, and he said his effort to empower students and teachers is inspired in part by his cohort director at the Northeast Leadership Academy — Teaching Assistant Professor Cathy Williams, Ed.D.
Williams “used to remind us that it isn’t about knowing what to say or do, but the secret is simply to be present and show up for our schools and communities,” Casey said. “I try to be that rock for our school every single day.”
Casey said the time he spent at the Northeast Leadership Academy was second to none.
“They took an experiential approach to my development that gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best educational leaders in the field,” Casey said. “The full-year principal residency enabled me to hit my first days on the job running.”
But his biggest takeaway from the principal preparation program?
“Relationships, relationships, relationships,” Casey said. “Strong relationships are critical to supporting students, teachers and the vision of the school.”
Photography credit: Pitt County Schools