From Primarily Math to new principals
When Lynn Fuller and Kellie Joy began Primarily Math in 2009, they never dreamed they would someday become principals. For members of the NebraskaMATH grant’s first cohort, Fuller and Joy, former kindergarten and third-grade teachers in Lincoln Public Schools, Primarily Math functioned as their springboard to their current leadership roles within the district.
“When I started Primarily Math, I was interested in the idea of improving math instruction and learning for my third-grade students and dabbling with the idea of instructional coaching,” Joy said. “When you surround yourself with people who are continuing to learn and grow and have the desire to constantly learn new things, you find yourself wanting to lead others in achieving their goals. My decision to move toward principalship was grounded in wanting to be part of a larger community and impacting others on a greater scale.”
After Primarily Math, Joy first became an instructional math coach at Clinton Elementary and earned her master’s degree at UNL in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. After five years at Clinton, Joy decided to get her Administration Certification. She then transitioned to Lakeview Elementary to be the coordinator for three years, and last year began her first year as a principal, also at Lakeview, in her 25th year as an educator.
“The greatest part of my job is being able to interact with all of the students, from greeting them in the morning as they enter school to putting them in their cars at the end of the day; I am overwhelmingly given smiles and hugs,” Joy said. “One of the greatest feelings I have had was when my new role was announced to the students over the intercom system by our former principal, Scott Nelson, and he played ‘Joy to the World’ by Three Dog Night. I stood in the hallway and heard the cheering, clapping, and roars throughout the building by kids. Knowing my role is to serve students first, it filled my heart to know that students supported me in moving to principal.”
Fuller followed a similar trajectory. She also had no intention of becoming a principal during Primarily Math. Fuller, who already had a master’s degree, used the Primarily Math courses as her electives in her doctoral program in educational leadership at UNL and went on to graduate with her Ph.D. in 2016.
“Every step along the way, I’ve said, ‘Well, I’ve gone so far now, I might as well keep going,’” Fuller said. “Primarily Math got me to this next level so that I had all of the electives done, and if I were to continue on into an ed leadership program, I could.”