by Lisa Tome
The custodial staff at Elk Neck Elementary School asked their new boss, Karen Adair, where she'd like her desk positioned.
Adair told them she doesn't care. She doesn't plan to spend much time in her new office. "I'm not going to be in here. I'm nervous and I'm excited," Adair said last week.
Now Adair, who has been a teacher, local support teacher, instructional support teacher, and assistant principal in the school system, is leading a school of her own. As of July 1, she became the principal at Elk Neck.
Adair brings a host of experience to her new job. She is a graduate of Cecil County Public Schools. She then earned a bachelor's degree at West Chester University and a master's degree in administration from McDaniel College. She taught fourth grade at Thomson Estates and Calvert elementaries. She then served as an instructional support teacher at Holly Hall Elementary. She was a local support teacher and taught fifth grade at Kenmore Elementary. She was then assistant principal at Perryville Elementary. She spent the last two years as assistant principal at Conowingo Elementary before her promotion. In the spring, Adair graduated from the Cecil Leadership Institute.
Adair hardly needs an introduction to many of the parents at Elk Neck. Many of them remember her when she was a little girl, accompanying her father, the late Nelson K. Bolender, when he was a school administrator, in that area's feeder system. Bolender was also a county commissioner and served on Cecil's Election Board. Her mother, Peggy, taught in the school system for more than 30 years. Her niece teaches at Elkton Middle and her sister-in-law teaches at Cecil Manor. "I knew I was ready to be a principal. And now I'm ready for the kids to be here," said Adair. There are about 430 students enrolled at the school and approximately 60 staff.
"I'm not making changes. This is a school that has done very well. The only changes I will make will be if it impacts a child. This is all about the kids," said Adair. She plans to bring the Poverty and the Brain program to the school. Elk Neck has nearly 40 percent or the school population who receive free and reduced meals. "I want us all to understand how we can meet the needs of every student," she said.
New math and reading curriculums are also being introduced this year system wide.
Adair said the school already has a business partnership with Pat's Pizza. She is seeking an additional partner or partners. "I'm excited to get to know the community. This is a school that has done well. I know this community and I understand the impact of a community-based school. I'm going to try to bring local leaders to this school.
She has already met some of the parents of the students. She has also heard many times that her father was the principal of some of those now parents.