Alexandra Bates wins the 2016 award.
May 26, 2016
TFA-Metro Atlanta alum Alexandra Bates (’01) has been awarded the 2016 Fulton County Schools Principal of the Year award. Below is the profile of Bates from the school’s announcement.
Westlake High School Principal Alexandra Bates had a humbling start in school when she was held back a grade in elementary school. But the feelings of self-doubt she felt only made her work harder to become a stronger student, and she uses that experience today to motivate others.
"Every year as a teacher, I began my school year by encouraging my students, saying 'If I can fail the first grade and still make it to college and beyond, then you can too. Just because you failed once doesn't mean you are a failure,' " she says. "Now, as a principal I find myself telling this story over and over again to students who feel they have no hope. It is my responsibility to ensure that students are empowered, equipped and encouraged."
Westlake staff members, like Chantrise Sims Holliman, recognize the intentional way Bates is building a positive climate and how it is improving student achievement and boosting morale.
"[When I first met her] my first thought was – this woman is serious about education," says Holliman, a teacher and professional learning coach at Westlake. "Being a principal is a tough job and being the principal of Westlake High School is truly a difficult task, but one that Mrs. Bates has tackled in magnificent fashion. Her tenacity, creativity and humility have made her one of the most successful and impactful principals I've had in my 11 years at Westlake.
The positive environment that Bates has nurtured at Westlake also is noticeable to those at neighboring schools. Gullatt Elementary Principal Felipe Jackson says that it's evident Bates has focused on "the customer experience" at Westlake.
"As a fellow principal this is clear every time I have had the pleasure to enter Westlake. I have observed the students and staff treat me and every other person with the highest level of respect and courtesy," he says. "Many of us 'steal' ideas from the work she is doing at Westlake."