Veteran educator changes schools

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 11, 2003

GATESVILLE – The end of an era in education in Gates County has come to a close for one educator, but he’s not through quite yet.

Elton Winslow, Gates County High School Principal, officially retired June 30th after 30 years of teaching, coaching, advising and administrating at Gates County High School only to change hats and became Head Master at Ridgecroft School in Ahoskie.

&uot;When you enjoy what you do, it’s easy to keep doing it,&uot; said Winslow. &uot;It seems like its been a long time, but it just happens. Gates County is the only place I’ve taught. I’ve had chances over the years to go to other places, but I liked it here and wanted to stay. I graduated from Gates County High School, my children did also and if the Lord’s willing, my grandchildren will too.&uot;

Now, after 30 years, Winslow had decided to move on and as he says, &uot;Try something different.&uot;

&uot;I was fortunate. I had a chance to retire and then go back to work,&uot; said Winslow. Everybody at some point need a change, said Winslow.

&uot;I taught science for 20 years, served as assistant principal for eight years and then served as principal for two years,&uot; said Winslow.

Winslow concluded his second year as principal at Gates County High School with accolades and praise for a job well done.

When he took the position, he wanted his teachers to grow professionally and wanted to develop a group of teacher leaders. I wanted each department at the school to be strong and for them to monitor their own instructional program. I wanted them to look at their own strengths and weaknesses and design their staff development on those strengths and weaknesses.

&uot;Each department has to be able to look at what they need and decide what’s best to make the teachers better. What the history department needs may not be what the math department needs,&uot; said Winslow. With an effective plan we can all grow professionally,&uot; stated Winslow.

Having served as assistant principal for eight years, and far from being a stranger to the faculty, staff and students at the school. &uot;My duties as an assistant principal was the three B’s – buses, books and bad boys,&uot; said Winslow. Winslow was also in charge of the athletic program as well, but he says it wasn’t all bad boys and books. He shared the responsibility of discipline problems at the school as well as completing one-third of the teacher evaluations. &uot;Each assistant principal had certain responsibilities, but you could find yourself doing a little bit of everything,&uot; said Winslow.

After two years as principal, Winslow completed many of the goals he had set for himself and was then ready to move on and try something different.

&uot;This opportunity came up and it was something new and different and I was ready to try something new.

The biggest difference I will probably experience is being involved in more fundraising. I’ve done some fundraising but this will probably be on a larger scale.&uot;

Winslow also noted he’ll have a smaller student body at Ridgecroft. &uot;It’s about half of what I had at Gates County High School and I’ll be working with grades Pre-K through 12.&uot;

Winslow, who have been accustomed to working with high school students – now will be working with Pre-K and elementary school students.

When asked about that change, Winslow stated, children are children. I’m excited right now because it’s different. Anytime you can do something you haven’t done before, there is some excitement there.

&uot;Ridgecroft School has a rich history,&uot; said Winslow, &uot;and has been there over 30 years. We’ve got a good staff and good leadership teams. I’m excited and ready to get to work.&uot;

Winslow listed as his personal goals for Ridgecroft to increase enrollment, strengthen the existing instructional program and to provide focused and continuous leadership for the school.

&uot;I don’t plan on walking in and leaving. I want to be there for a while to give that continuous focused leadership.&uot;

&uot;We want to let people know what the school has to offer and there’s always room for expansion.&uot;

&uot;You have to always be willing to make improvements, said Winslow. &uot;This does not mean you’re weak. It means you are willing to improve what you have. There is no such thing as a perfect school,&uot; Winslow stated.

&uot;You make your changes in increments and make those changes over a period of time. You have to change as your student population changes,&uot; said Winslow.

&uot;Things can improve and improvement makes a school stronger and better as you go along. I gain my energy from the kids. I like being involved with the students and looking forward to this opportunity as well.&uot;

&uot;My new experience with the young children will be an interesting challenge. My entire experience has been with 14 to 18 year-olds. It’s going to be a learning experience for me.&uot;

In his farewell notes, Winslow thanked the county commissioners for providing the financial support the schools have needed over the years. He also noted to the commissioners to &uot;please look at controlled growth in the county. We got a great school system and we need to make sure it can provide the services needed for our children.&uot;

To the Central Office staff and Board of Education, Winslow thanked them as well for giving him support over the past 30 years. &uot;As long as you provide that support and guidance, Gates County will continue to be one of the best school systems in the state.&uot;

In conclusion, Winslow looked back over his 30 years with joy and wanted his staff to know that he thanked them for 30 wonderful years.

Born in the Norfolk area, Winslow is considered a county native after moving here when he was 13 years old. Winslow’s story is a rare one in that when he was 13 years old – and attending Norfolk Public Schools in 1958, the city’s answer to segregation was to have no public schools in the city of Norfolk.

Winslow’s father’s answer to that was to send him to North Carolina to attend school because he refused to allow the young man to miss a full year of school so Winslow came to Gates County to live with his aunt, Mrs. O.C. Turner.

After a year, Norfolk City Schools decided that option wouldn’t work and Winslow could have returned to Norfolk, but his grandmother made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

She promised him if he stayed, she would buy him a car. Winslow stayed and became a part of the first graduating class of Gates County High School.

&uot;I’m a native even though I wasn’t born here. My father’s family came from Gates County,&uot; stated Winslow.

Winslow is looking forward to working in his new post. An educator by choice with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Science from Old Dominion University, Winslow started out wanting to be a doctor. &uot;In graduate school, I got a chance to be a teacher’s assistant and found that I enjoyed teaching and working with young people,&uot; said Winslow, &uot;and that’s how I got into education.&uot;

&uot;I loved teaching and once you find the right motivating tool for young people, they’ll work for it. It has to be something they want and it’s up to us as educators to find out what it is,&uot; concluded Winslow.

Winslow began his new job July 1st as Head Master at Ridgecroft School in Ahoskie.