For the first time in a decade, new Principal Ellen Doherty will start the school year working in a brand new district. But if the veteran educator is nervous, it isn't showing.
"It's everything I hoped it would be," said Doherty, who spent four years as principal at John Jay High School before moving to White Plains. "It's a really vibrant and exciting place to be."
Doherty officially started her new job in July. Since making the move, she said the people she has worked with so far have impressed her.
"It was hard to leave a district that I had spent many years in," Doherty said. "I thought I would have a tougher time with it, but actually the very first day I walked in here I felt that this is where I belong."
Doherty joined the Katonah Lewisboro School District in 2003, after working at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES as a social worker and program supervisor. She started as the assistant director of special services and was later promoted to director of special services. In 2008 she was appointed principal at John Jay.
Doherty said while challenging, the move to White Plains is an opportunity she couldn't pass up. Among other things, she was drawn to the district's variety of programs and the community's connection to the district.
"I think professionally we do our best work when we grow and challenge ourselves," she said. "While I found the work at John Jay rewarding—and it's a school that in many ways has my heart—it was time for me to push myself and challenge myself professionally and White Plains is the perfect place for me right now."
Although Doherty has had a time to prepare for the school year, she said a lot of her time will be spent listening to others and learning about the culture at White Plains High School. As far as adjustments moving into a new district, she explained that goals are the same no matter where the students are from.
"Kids everywhere are pretty much the same, they need and deserve the same thing," she said. "What we ought to be doing as educators is really meeting our students where they are and moving them to where they need to be. I think that that’s the best practice in any district."
With the first day of school only weeks away, the next big milestone for the district's newest principal that first day of school. A day she said she has been anticipating for a while.
"You start missing kids and teachers," she said. "I'm really looking forward to the beginning of school."