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Meet and greet
New MVHS principal Black meets the public
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Magna Vista High School’s new principal, JaMese Black (left), shakes hands with Logan Akers, a rising sophomore at MVHS. Akers’ mother, Cheryl Akers (center) watches. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, July 11, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

JaMese Black is home again.

Black, the new principal at Magna Vista High School, was introduced to the public during receptions there and at Laurel Park Middle School on Thursday.

A 1992 graduate of the former Fieldale-Collinsville High School, Black left Henry County to become an educator. She said it was her desire to return that led her to pursue the job at Magna Vista.

“I immediately jumped at it” after she learned that former principal Gracie Agnew was retiring, Black said.

“Henry County was the (school) district that educated me ... and prepared me for life,” she said. “I wanted to do the same thing” for local students.

County schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said Magna Vista is “a great high school with a great tradition” of educating students well.

“We look forward to moving to the next level,” Cotton said. “Mrs. Black is the person to do that.”

She is “committed to excellence,” he said.

Black began her education career as a social studies teacher at Rockingham County High School in Wentworth, N.C. She then went to Greensboro, N.C., where she was curriculum coordinator for Weaver Academy and the Middle College at Bennett, both within the Guilford County Schools.

Black was assistant principal at Bartlett Yancey High School in Yanceyville, N.C., in 2008-09 and at Northeast Guilford High School in McLeansville, N.C., from 2011 until this year, her biography shows.

She graduated from High Point University with a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in history.

Black described herself as “an out-of-the-box thinker” who strives to find unique ways to meet students’ individual needs.

She is planning no major changes at Magna Vista immediately. She said her goals for the first year are to “watch and learn” — which will help her figure out how to lead the school effectively — and to build positive relations with students, parents, faculty and staff members and the community.

“I think she’ll make a very positive impression on our school,” said guidance counselor Carolyn Hodges. “She seems to be very compassionate.”

Black praised Agnew’s leadership of Magna Vista. She noted some of the school’s accomplishments under Agnew, such as becoming fully accredited under the state’s Standards of Learning and establishing the Warrior Tech Academy, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math.

“I have some mighty big shoes to fill,” Black said.

Jim Adams, the Blackberry District representative on the Henry County Board of Supervisors, said he is sure that Black will “do a great job.”

While Agnew did a great job, too, “it’s always good to have new energy and new ideas,” Adams said.

In dealing with students, Black said she strives to be fair but she believes in “giving respect to gain respect.”

Asked to elaborate on how she thinks students will relate to her, she said, “I’m JaMese Black. Here I am. In a general way, they’ll have to figure it out” based on how one individual relates to another individual.

“She seems nice, cool and humble” said Jada Long, a rising senior at Magna Vista and the daughter of Lorenzo and Vanessa Long. And, “she is going above and beyond” to get to know students already.

Former Martinsville commonwealth’s attorney Joan Ziglar, who has known Black for many years, said Black understands that she has to earn students’ respect, but she will not let students bully her.

If they try to, “JaMese will win every time,” Ziglar said.

But, she said, if students “come in with the attitude that they want to follow the rules and be good learners,” they will get along well with Black.

Ziglar described Black as “someone who is straightforward, honest and very intelligent.”

“She will lead by example,” Ziglar added. “I think she’ll do an amazing job.”


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