Capron principal has never been happierPublished 11:44am Saturday, April 12, 2014
MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
CAPRON—Dr. Allison Francis, the new principal and former teacher at Capron Elementary School, always knew she would become a teacher, even though she did not pursue this option until she had tried her hand working in the business world.
“I went to work in purchasing at Camp’s/International Paper right out of college,” she said. “I liked my job, but still had a desire to teach, especially to teach younger children.
“So, at age 38, I left the mill and went back to college to get my teaching credentials.
“I remember my boss asking me if I was sure this was what I wanted to do,” she said with a smile. “Of course I said yes. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been happier.”
Francis, now 52, grew up in Newsoms, graduated from Southampton Academy and attended Averett University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in purchasing/management.
Soon after graduation, she went to work at the paper mill, where she remained until 1999 when she decided to go into teaching.
“It was a big step,” Francis said, “but I knew in my heart this was what I wanted.”
She went on to earn her master’s degree in early childhood education at Old Dominion University and later, her doctorate in education leadership.
The dedicated educator moved to Capron Elementary in 2004 as a kindergarten teacher, then switched over to teach second-grade.
After nine years at Capron, she was named principal of the school last year and gives credit to the two former principals she taught under.
“Both of these ladies sort of took me under their wings, so to speak, and I learned quite a bit about the position. I am indebted to them,” she said.
Francis’ position doesn’t keep her from contact with ‘her’ students, however.
“I love every one of them,” she said, adding that she makes it a point to visit each classroom on a daily basis.
“They are so eager to learn,” she continued. “I love to see their little faces light up like a light bulb when they understand what the teacher says.”
As principal, she oversees 187 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade and 32 employees, including the bus drivers. In fact, she is involved in every activity connected with the school and even makes it a habit to meet and greet the five buses on arrival and watches as they depart in the afternoon.
She grins as she reveals that she knows each child and most of the parents by name.
“I still don’t know a few of the parents,” Francis added, “but I will before the close of the school year.”
Aside from the regular curriculum, she is working toward adding new in-depth subjects to the schedule. For instance, Francis has applied for a grant to help initiate one based on a book written by Steve Covey titled “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids,” which will teach the students such things as accountability, how to take charge of themselves, etc.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the grant,” she said. “And if so, this will be something that can be used in all the elementary schools.”
Although Francis no longer has to teach, she still practices the hands-on approach she used with her students when she did.
“The school is like one big classroom,” she said. “Children need to be recognized as individuals and they deserve our attention.”
Francis “practices what she preaches,” you could say. It’s not unusual to see a little kindergartner run up and hug her as she walks down the hallway.
Francis always stops and returns the hug.
NAME: Dr. Allison B. Francis.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was born and raised in Newsoms and now live in Capron.
OCCUPATION: Principal at Capron Elementary School.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Walter Francis for 30 years.
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: We have three. Hattie is 25 and teaches at Southampton High School, Clara is 22 and attends William and Mary and Walter Jr. is 18 and a senior at Southampton High School.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Spending time with my husband in our backyard beside a cozy fire.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Red Lobster.
FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Steak or shrimp and water.
ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME: I really enjoy singing in the choir at my church.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOURSELF: People always see me with a smile on my face.
PETS: We have two dogs and a cat.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I have to be busy always; can’t sit still.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOBBY: Watching Virginia Tech football games.
PET PEEVE: I don’t like people who are fake, who try to be someone they are not.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB: Working at Aster Nut Peanut Company.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As someone who lived each day as if it were the last.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would speak about the equality of education for children. Each child is an individual; some learn more quickly than others, however, I believe that each child deserves an equal chance. Parents and schools should recognize this and take the necessary steps to see that this is done.