Slanesville’s new principal Jodie Dean Long calls for positivity, patience

LANESVILLE — Slanesville Elementary School’s new principal Jodie Dean Long is bringing her energy and positivity to Hampshire County, and she’s ready to welcome kids back to the building.

Long graduated from Hampshire High School in 1992, and her father, Roscoe Brooks Dean, was a teacher at Romney Junior High. She has run the circuit, teaching in Grant County for a year, in Hardy County for 20 years and just came from spending time as an assistant principal in Shenandoah County, Va.

“My husband thought I was crazy,” Long said with a laugh. “He said, ‘you’re not going back to West Virginia!’ Something just told me to apply, and if I’m meant to be here, I’ll get the job.”

Well, Long was meant to be here, and she’s “super excited” to start the school year next week.

Starting as a school principal during a time when the education landscape changes daily would be no easy feat, but Long doesn’t seem to be fazed.

“I love my staff already. I’d heard amazing things, and I was concerned about stuff coming in during a pandemic, but they’re all leaders. We’ve jumped in full-throttle.”

One of the changes Long is making to SES is going to be her positive behavior plan. It’s a “bucket-filler” program, Long said, and every student has an invisible bucket.

“You can be kind and fill their bucket, or you can be mean and be a bucket-dipper,” Long explained. “It’s just a really neat concept. They want to be bucket-fillers.”

She’s itching to start the new year, and even though starting at a new school during a pandemic can seem intimidating, she knows patience is key. 

“There’s a lot of unknowns, but they’re unknown for everyone,” she said. “We’re all just going to have to be very patient.”

Some of the other changes she’s planning on making are tightening the SES “open-door” policy, especially for the playground and the walking track. When it comes to the teaching of the kids, she’s rooting for the SES staff and she’s hopeful the community is as well.

“The frustration parents are going to feel, teachers are going through that same frustration. They have to handle it and make it work and make the decisions that are best for their students,” she said. “Kids feed off their parents and family members, so if the parents can stay positive and focus on the good stuff, that’s going to keep the kids positive.”  

Positivity and patience are going to be the theme for this year in the county as a whole, and Long embodies that at SES.

“We just have so many things in store for this school,” she said. “It’s just very exciting. Our teachers have proven themselves, over and over again. They’re amazing.”

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