COVINGTON — Newton County principals at almost all 24 campuses received special visitors Tuesday morning. The Newton County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Newton County School district, asked community stakeholders if they would like to act as “Principal for a Day” in order to gain insight into Newton County schools and their educational efforts.

Each participant was assigned to a different school and then asked to give feedback at a special luncheon.

The Newton Citizen was given the opportunity to shadow Clements Middle School Principal Fred Richard.

Richard was named principal of Clements in 2018 after serving as assistant principal from 2011-2018. Prior to his leadership role he served as a coach, teacher, interim athletic director, high school assistant principal and an interim middle school principal at two other middle schools.

“I love my school and my students ,” said Richard. “We have grown in numbers the last few years, and being able to watch the student population and the instructional growth build as a process has been a wonderful experience.”

Richard just returned from the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals two-day Fall Conference in Savannah.

“Being the oldest of three and growing up in a single family household, there were no excuses,” said Richard. “Growing up in Albany, I participated in the Boys Club and I was able to manifest the leadership skills that I hold today. The experiences and guidance that I received as a kid are what transcended me to give back to the youth and ignited my love for education.”

During the Citizen’s visit, Richard greeted every student as they entered the building, ate their breakfast and checked in at homeroom.

“Consistency, confidence and affirmation is key,” said Richard walking down the hall to his morning duty post.

After verifying that the building’s exterior was secure, Richard continued his daily routine and completed teacher evaluations.

“Our teachers work hard each day to ensure that all of our students are safe and that they are receiving the best educational experience possible,” said Richard.

Richard stopped in William Foster’s seventh-grade science class as students reviewed the composition of the human skeleton and its joints and cushions; Briana Brown’s seventh-grade English language arts class reviewing Monday’s article from the SpringBoard workbook; and the media center where Trellis Buckles was helping students with resources such as Destiny to work on their upcoming science fair projects.

Richard uses teacher evaluations to help new and veteran teachers address what they need to work on in the future.

“Being a principal is very different than being a coach or teacher,” said Richard. “You have to be a little more organized, flexible — you have to keep yourself in perspective and always be on your toes.”

Clements currently houses more than 880 students, mostly coming from Live Oak and Porterdale elementary schools.

Clements is a Title I school and participates in the PBIS rewards program.

At the luncheon, 22 community stakeholders, including leaders from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, SteelCo Building, Piedmont Newton and Action Ministries, all reported positive feedback on their experiences to NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey as well as Dr. Benjamin Roundtree, chief academic officer, and Dr. Nikkita Warfield, director of secondary education.

Ben Childers, SteelCo Building sales representative and a graduate of Eastside High (Class of ‘99), spent the day with Eastside Principal Jeff Cher.

“That guy’s energy level is insane,” said Childers. “And I didn’t see him drink coffee or an energy drink, so he was just really on it… He hustles; he sees everything, he is very enthusiastic, he loves his job and is great at communication. If he needs to take disciplinary action, he doesn’t talk down to them, he keeps them moving forward.

“There are over 1,800 students at that school and he knows what everyone is doing,” continued Childers. “He really is great at what he does.”

“First let me say thank you for participating today,” said Fuhrey. “We work very closely with the Chamber in an effort to ensure that our students receive the type of instruction they need in order to be successful beyond high school, whether that be college, technical school or entering the workforce directly.

“We are one of five state school districts to be recognized for the partnership with our Chamber,” continued Fuhrey. “And it really serves as a testament to when we really work together and we recognize the needs of each organization, how far we can go collectively.”

To learn more about the Newton County Chamber of Commerce or how you can help support the Newton County School System visit or

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