New Jack Robey Junior High principal is lifelong learner

Donald Booth took the reigns as principal of Jack Robey Junior High School on Tuesday, with goals of becoming familiar with all the stakeholders.

“I think Jack Robey will be a good place,” Booth said. “Most of the things I have heard have been mostly positive. I bring a positive attitude and a willingness to assist teachers. … [Tuesday] was my first day, and I already met two parents.”

Constantly looking to further his knowledge base, Booth is earning a doctorate degree in education at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Even with 35 years experience as an educator, including 25 years as an administrator, Booth is furthering his education to be a better leader.

“I would be somewhat afraid to see a doctor who had not advanced his or her professional standards for decades,” Booth said. “As educators, I expect my teachers to stay abreast of innovations in education and leadership’s best practices.”

The Jack Robey post became vacant after Jerry Bell left for another district. Last year, Booth was an assistant principal at Pine Bluff High School, his first in this district.

As far as making changes, Booth said that he needs time to observe his new surroundings.

“I look to monitor and adjust as I go,” he said.

While summer vacation affords a break to students, principals work on a host of projects. Booth plans to interview prospective teachers for four open positions, review test results, meet with parents and perform other duties as they arise during the summer.

Nationally, standardized tests have been a point of contention among educators and parents. Opponents decry teaching to the test at the expense of fostering critical thinking skills and creativity. Booth takes a middle ground approach as to the value of standardized tests measuring a student’s progress.

“As an educator, I believe they are necessary but they need to be weighted. Test scores can theoretically pigeonhole students if a child performs poorly,” he said. “For instance, a child may not have slept well the previous night. A child may not have eaten breakfast the morning of the test. … There are too many variables.”