Ebenezer Elementary has a familiar face as the new principal, Beth Kight, assumed the role of principal on July 1.
Kight has been in education for 22 years and the majority of that time has been spent educating students in Effingham County. Kight began her career in 1985 at Springfield Elementary and eventually moved to south Florida, where she lived for three years.
When she returned to Effingham, she went to Ebenezer Elementary and has been there since 1995.
Kight said pursuing a career in education was an easy decision for her.
“I’ve always liked children,” she said. “At the time I grew up my parents and the community held the schools and teachers with great respect.”
Kight has taught kindergarten, and first and fifth grades. She taught fifth grade at Ebenezer Elementary and then trained for the reading recovery program.
“I was half time lead teacher at the time I taught reading recovery,” she said. “Then I became full time lead teacher, and then from that position to assistant principal.”
Kight said she became a reading recovery teacher because of the importance reading ability has in all academic areas.
“I taught kindergarten and first grade, so I taught the beginner readers. It’s a fascinating process,” she said. “Children who struggle, it’s difficult to know what methods to use to reach them, and the reading recovery program is a wonderful program. It reaches students that are struggling readers. A lot of academic achievement is based on your ability to read.
“It affects math, science, social studies. It affects all the different subjects. If you’re a good reader it makes it much easier to be a good student all the way around in all subjects.”
Kight said it was a natural process to transition into the administrative aspect of education.
“I enjoyed the classroom, but I was always very interested in supporting my principals in school initiatives,” she said. “I was actively involved in committees.
“I enjoyed my role as assistant principal, but I saw it is an opportunity to move up into the next phase, and assume responsibility,” Kight said. “I’ve been in education 28 years, and once again it seemed like a natural process to be interested in furthering my career.”
Kight said she feels fortunate to be at Ebenezer.
“We’re in very good standing,” she said. “We have wonderful teachers. We have a great staff not just teachers, but the paraprofessionals, the whole entire staff. We have great students. We have great parent support, and I want to see all that continue.
“You know the old saying, if something’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Kight said. “There are so many good things going on here, there are not huge things to fix. We continually try to fine tune. School improvement is about moving forward. You can never stop because if you stop you tend to go backwards — you don’t remain on a plateau.”
She said the things EES has done recently have proven to work.
“If you look at our test scores, you’ll see that they’ve worked,” Kight said. “Our teachers have a very strong work ethic. They’re interested in the students’ success. We have great kids who are interested, parents that are interested. It’s a very good situation to be in, a great school to be in.”
Kight said Effingham is a great school system to work for.
“It’s just an ongoing process school improvement,” she said. “Like I said, it’s really true that if you’re not moving forward you’re sliding backwards. From the top leadership down everyone recognizes that we have to be active. You can’t just pat yourself on the back and say I’m great because you might end up with egg on your face.”
Kight said predecessor Brenda Jenkins paved a smooth road for her as she assumes the role of principal.
“I’m very fortunate to step in Ms. Jenkins’ position,” Kight said. “She’s done a wonderful job. She’s a very organized person, a very strong instructional leader, which is what a principal has to be. The school has good test scores, great teachers, great kids, a great PTSO,” Kight said. “We have parent volunteers. We have so much support from home. It truly is that communication with home because we are a team — you can’t just stand alone.
“We have to have parents, students and teachers, the school working together in education for our school to do well and move forward,” she said. “It’s a struggle when only one section of that triangle is working for progress. We are very fortunate, I know I say that over and over, but we are very fortunate to be in this community.”