ELIZABETHTOWN — Coming home is always special, but to be recognized for serving at home is supreme. Bladen Lakes Primary School Principal Priscilla Brayboy knows all too well how good it feels after being named Bladen County Schools’ Principal of the Year for her service at the school that she attended as a child and where she now serves.
“It makes me feel great, and I appreciate the honor,” Brayboy said.
A Bladen County native, Brayboy attended Bladen Lakes as a first-grader the year the school opened and stayed until she transferred to Bladen Middle School. She attended “the original” East Bladen High School, graduating in 1989.
Brayboy went on to attend Fayetteville State University and graduated with a degree in business administration. She made a change, however, when she began her family.
“When my son started school, and I started working with him on his homework — that’s when I began thinking about going into education,” she explained.
Brayboy received her education certification through North Carolina’s lateral entry program, taught at Plain View for nine years, and went on to receive her master’s in school administration and curriculum. She served as assistant principal for one year at Tar Heel Middle and for three years at Elizabethtown Primary. She is now in her second year as principal at Bladen Lakes.
“This is my home,” Brayboy said. “It’s where I grew up, where my entire family, including my son, went to school, and these people are my family.”
Brayboy takes seriously her commitment to her family.
“I’m in the classrooms every day, sometimes two or three times a day,” she said. “I know every student by name (the number for which, she said, was around 280). I made that a goal, not just to be able to say that I know their names, but, when someone knows you by name, it feels good — it feels like you’re special.”
Since Brayboy sees her staff and students as family, she treats them as such.
“My door is always open. I tell (the staff) that they can talk about anything. No matter how trivial they think something may be, they can come to me, and we can decide together,” she stated.
“As for the children,” she went on to say, “they’re my babies. I like seeing them every day, I love their hugs, love to see their faces in the morning and hear the stories that they tell me. That’s the best part of my job.”
At a recent principals’ meeting, each principal cast a ballot for the person they thought best exemplified the nature of being a leader of students and teachers, and the honor this year went to Brayboy, who was recognized at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
“Parents have been really pleased with the amount of engagement that she provides,” said Bladen County Schools Information Officer Valerie Newton. “She tries to involve the parents in as many activities and events as possible, and parents say she’s doing a fabulous job providing them opportunities to participate and keeping them informed.”
Brayboy now advances to a regional competition.
“I love what I do,” said Brayboy. “I wouldn’t do anything else. If I won the lottery today, I would still come to work. I absolutely love it.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.