When Roulhac Middle School Principal Nancy Holley found out she was named the Florida TaxWatch Middle School Principal of the Year late last year, the award came as a surprise.
Unbeknownst to Holley, students and administrators were assembled in the school’s gym while Holley was sent away on an errand so the Roulhac community had time to gather in secret for the celebration.
“Shocked” is the best description Holley had when she was told of the distinction.
“My school’s amazing,” she said. “My teachers are amazing.”
Holley also said the students help make a “great community.”
Florida TaxWatch describes itself as an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog” organization and is based in Tallahassee. For the Middle School Principal of the Year award, they reportedly look at student data to see how students are depending on a variety of factors, including financial background and academic achievements.
Roulhac Middle students are said to have exceeded expectations.
“Consistently, year after year, we are one or two points away from being an A school,” Holley said.
TaxWatch representatives contacted Washington County School District Superintendent Joe Taylor after discovering this and asked if there was a reason Holley shouldn’t be named Principal of the Year.
None came to mind.
Holley attributes students outperforming expectations to the work put in by Roulhac teachers and staff, who pay attention to individual students and reach out to them if they see kids struggling.
For instance, one student who was struggling in math because he wasn’t eating breakfast personally received cereal to eat in class from school administrators.
“We just notice the little things,” Holley said. “When they need a jacket, we give them a jacket.”
The school also celebrates when students do well on a test.
School leaders and staff aim to have students focus on academics instead of fighting or other distractions, Holley said. Roulhac wants kids to feel safe on campus, she said.
Everyone at Roulhac is a winner and the school isn’t doing anything unusual when it comes to education and helping students, Holley said.
“Our community’s fantastic,” she said.