Two new Madison principals to greet students

Back to school time is finally here, and for Madison Station Elementary Principal Martha Hanna the first day of school could not get here soon enough.

“I don’t enjoy summers because I don’t like when there aren’t teachers and students in the building,” says Hanna, “I’m excited to have our teachers back and get movement and activity back in the building, but I’m even more excited to have the little faces come. It’s amazing to see all the children come in on the first day.”

For Hanna this first day of school marks another important beginning: her first year as principal at Madison Station. Hanna has worked in Madison County Schools for nearly two decades, first serving as a teacher and later as a literacy specialist. She worked at Madison Avenue Elementary and Madison Crossing Elementary, then as assistant principal at Madison Station Elementary, which is home to 1,000 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

She has been an educator for 25 years, having earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Mississippi State University and a master’s in education leadership from Mississippi College, as well as a National Board for Professional Teaching Certificate. Hanna was named Madison County Schools Teacher of the Year for the 2006-2007 school year.

“Martha will do a fantastic job,” says Madison County Schools Superintendent Ronnie McGehee. “Martha has experience in the lead [as principal] at Yazoo County Schools, and she returned to us as an assistant principal and now has her opportunity to lead at Madison Station. She is very well-supported both inside and outside the building,” says McGehee.

“It’s a really big honor, and a really big deal, to be offered the position of principal in an elementary school with the history of academic excellence that this school has,” says Hanna of her new role. Hanna’s promotion comes on the heels of longtime principal Beverly Johnston’s retirement.

 

Those feelings of responsibility and excitement are echoed by Principal Terri Thornton, who is beginning her first year at the helm of Madison Crossing Elementary following the retirement of Principal Martha D’Amico.

“I think this school is the heartbeat of the Maverick Zone. It’s a diverse population and it’s truly a community,” says Thornton, who is a familiar face to the 630 students in kindergarten through fifth grade who are welcomed through the doors at Madison Crossing on the first day of school.

“It’s always good especially in that five-year-old to nine-year-old age range to have a familiar face and consistent smile from their principal,” says McGehee, who says the two new principals in his district have the strong advantage of having served in the schools they now lead. “Anytime that you can hire from within and people know your processes, your people, and what your expectations are, I think that’s a positive for us, the students and the community that they lead,” says McGehee, “They are also both lifelong educators.”

A dedicated student as well, Thornton earned her undergraduate degree and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Jackson State University. She received her Gifted Certification from Mississippi College. Thornton has also earned a National Board for Professional Teaching Certificate. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. at William Carey University.

 Thornton taught elementary school for 13 years and was an instructional specialist at Luther Branson Elementary before moving into administration, first as assistant principal at Velma Jackson High School and then as assistant principal at Madison Crossing Elementary.

“Terri has served us well in multiple locations and is excited to lead her location at Madison Crossing,” McGehee says. “Her teachers are also very excited.”

 

Not only is Thornton principal at Madison Crossing, she is also a parent. Her younger daughter will be in fourth grade, which she says gives her special perspective. “If it’s not good enough for my own [child], it’s not good enough for yours. I want the very best for mine just like I want the best for yours.” Thornton knows firsthand the value of a strong academic program to prepare students for a bright future after graduation. Her older daughter was graduated last year from Germantown High School and is headed to college this fall.

The focus at Madison Crossing this year will be continuing student-centered instruction as well as diving deeper into data-driven instruction. “Everything we do is about the kids,” says Thornton. The teachers will be driven by the school’s motto for the year: “Every kid matters, and every moment counts.” Madison Crossing faculty will continue their commitment to fostering a loving, caring environment where the students can achieve academic success and develop a life-long love of learning, Thornton adds.

At Madison Station Elementary, Hanna’s goals are to remain focused on areas of past success, such as arts integration, while also moving forward to connect the arts to a broader range of subjects. She also aims to enhance the character development program, which focuses specifically on kindness and respect.

“We currently have three goals at Madison Station: academic excellence, arts integration, and health and wellness. This year I will work with the staff to work on [developing] a goal related to character,” says Hanna, “We are trying to reach the whole child, so I think it’s very appropriate to add a character goal.”

Hanna says her own three children and their experiences as students in Madison County Schools impact her drive to provide opportunities to the next generation of students. Her oldest two are graduates of Madison County Schools, and her youngest is a rising senior at Germantown High School. “It’s very personal what the school is able to do to help children achieve and reach academic goals. I’ve had the benefit of my children going through Madison Schools and doing very well and getting academic scholarships [to college]. The strength of Madison County Schools has had a big impact on my family personally.”