“One-on-One” is a new series put together by the West End PTSO that spotlights a different West End staff or faculty member every couple of weeks. Getting to know the people with whom your children spend their days is a great way to better understand the entire West End experience. It’s a great school, and the team leading it is even better!
First up, West End’s principal, Dr. Craig Hammond.
Are you from Nashville, and if not, where did you grow up?
I am a native Nashvillian. I grew up in the Glendale neighborhood of Oak Hill and attended Granbery Elementary, Glendale Middle, and Overton High.
Tell us about your background in education that led you to your position at West End Middle.
I attended Lipscomb University and majored in History Education. My first teaching job was at DuPont Hadley Middle teaching fifth grade Reading and Language Arts. From there, I returned to my alma mater, Overton, to teach social studies. I was promoted to Asst. Principal at Overton, and after seven years there, I transferred to Hillsboro High to lead the Academy of the IB Diploma Programme. After three years at Hillsboro, I felt ready to lead a school of my own. Fortunately, West End needed a new school leader after Mr. Keith retired.
What is your favorite part of the job as principal of West End?
Three daily occurrences stick out in my mind. One is arrival when I meet students at the back main entrance and in front of the office to shake their hands, look them in the eye and say “Good Morning!” It’s a great way to start the day because students bring so much energy and hope for a great day each morning. The second is witnessing really powerful lessons and learning in classrooms. You can really see the students learning and growing in the classrooms daily as the teachers deliver meaningful lessons that they have worked really hard to prepare. I also enjoy interacting with the community at dismissal. We have such a great lifeworld at West End, and it seems the whole community comes out for dismissal with dogs, bikes and playing in Elmington Park. It is just an amazing place to be!
Who has been your most memorable student and why?
There have been so many. Humphrey Uti is a student I had at Hillsboro in the IB program. I thought of him because he stopped by to see me a few days ago. He made the Dean’s List his first two semesters at Southern Illinois University (SIU) where he attends on a full scholarship. This past summer, he became probably the youngest licensed realtor for Village Real Estate and probably the youngest in Nashville. Humphrey has always displayed kindness, discipline and great ambition as long as I’ve known him. He embodies the IB Learner Profile, is a life-long learner, and it is serving him very well now in his sophomore year of college.
If you weren’t the West End principal, what would you most likely be doing?
I would be teaching and coaching. I loved teaching and coaching, but I do enjoy being a school principal more. If I was out of the education realm completely, I would probably be in the building industry. I’m pretty handy when it comes to home building, remodeling, etc.
What is the most important goal you’d like to achieve this year?
I would like for us to be a level 5 school this year. This means that we would grow academically well beyond students’ predicted performance levels. Last year, we made level 3 in literacy in math, which means students grew as they were expected to. That is okay, but we can do much better. It is all about continuous improvement and being a great school that fully prepares and increases opportunities for students.
To get in touch with Dr. Hammond, email him at Craig.Hammond@mnps.org