By: Garrett Mitchell, Staff Writer
Woodruff Primary and Elementary schools are both welcoming new principals for the 2020-21 school year, and both are beloved veterans of District Four schools.
Ann Hodge, who has served in District Four schools since 1999, was named principal at Woodruff Elementary School following a six-year tenure in the same role at Woodruff Primary School.
Casey Dover was appointed as principal at Woodruff Primary School (WPS) in a corresponding move. Dover has worked at the primary school for 21 years where she began her career teaching kindergarten and preschool before serving the previous six years as assistant principal.
Woodruff District Four Superintendent Dr. Rallie Liston is excited about the promotions of both Hodge and Dover, which were approved by the Spartanburg School District Four Board of Trustees.
“Mrs. Hodge has served District Four in a variety of roles,” said Liston. “It is those varied experiences in instructional leadership and her interpersonal skills that make her the perfect leader for Woodruff Elementary School. She understands student achievement and has already established relationships with the students and families of the District Four community. I am completely confident that she will continue the tradition of excellence at Woodruff Elementary School.”
Liston had high praise for Dover as well.
“Mrs. Dover is knowledgeable about early childhood, early literacy development, and the various program requirements at Woodruff Primary School. She has worked with young children and families in the District Four community for two decades. She is an excellent instructional leader in early childhood education. I am certain she will continue the high standards established for Woodruff Primary School.”
Both Hodge and Dover are excited to begin their new roles, even during the challenge of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty about the future of the new school year. Both, however, have ambitious goals that aim to serve the students of Woodruff who embody one of the most academically decorated public school systems in the state of South Carolina.
“My long-term goal for the staff is that we build a strong relationship with each other and create a shared vision for the (elementary) school,” said Hodge. “We need to trust each other so we can achieve that shared vision. I look forward to getting to know each and every member of the staff. My long-term goal for the parents is to help them feel confident in the staff’s ability to make their child feel safe and loved, while helping them to grow as much as possible in all areas. Since the students should be the primary focus, the long-term goal for them is the most important. Our goal as educators is for the students to learn. When the students go home at the end of the day, we should feel confident that we did everything we could for the students that day.”
For Dover, her goal is to continue improving and enriching the educational opportunities for the students of Woodruff Primary School and making sure her staff is prepared through continued learning and adaptation as well.
“WPS is a unique school in that we can truly focus on early childhood practices, and we start with many of our children when they are as young as three years old,” she said. “As a faculty, we have spent many professional development hours learning how children develop, how children learn, and how we can best teach to our students. However, research is constantly changing, and there is always room to grow. We continue to uphold high standards under our NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation.”
Dover continued, “My ultimate goal is that we not become comfortable in our practices. In order to do what is best for students, we must make professional learning a priority, and not settle for anything less than the best. Our students deserve the best, and that is what we should give them daily.”
Both Hodge and Dover are well equipped to deliver on their goals and expectations of academic success.
Hodge received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from UNC Chapel Hill, a Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Appalachian State, and a Masters of Education in Education Administration from Converse College. Since 1999 she has worked as a reading recovery teacher, instructional coach and assistant principal.
Dover received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood from USC Upstate, a Masters of Education Degree in Elementary Education from Converse College, and an Educational Specialist Degree in Administration and Supervision from Converse College. Additionally, she has served as an early childhood coach and spearheaded Woodruff Primary School’s initial and subsequent NAEYC accreditations.
“(Woodruff Primary School) is home to me,” said Dover. “I’ve served in many different roles throughout the years and I’ve been fortunate enough to work under and learn from three different principals at WPS, including Mrs. Ann Hodge, Dr. Kimberly McAbee, and Mr. Jim Call. I’m excited to not only continue the practices they have implemented, but also implement some of the specific knowledge I’ve learned over the years regarding best early childhood practices. Our teachers are experts in the field, and I hope to continue to lead them in new learning, and learn along with them.”
Hodge added, “Some of the students I have known since they were three years old. Looking at the progress the students have made since they left the primary school has been very exciting. I cannot wait to talk with them and tell them how proud I am of them.”