By Maggie Beamguard, Insider Editor
When students return to West End Elementary school later this month, they will be greeted by their new principal, Katie Lockamy. And she is excited to meet them.
“I’m excited about them being here. I’m excited to be their principal,” she said. “I’m excited for their energy to be on campus, and for them to see how much I already love them and for all the great things they are going to do.”
Lockamy comes to West End Elementary by way of Pinecrest High School, where she served as an assistant principal.
The Moore County native grew up in the small community of Niagara and was raised in the home that once belonged to her great-grandmother. It was in that home where she first showed an inclination towards education.
“As a kid, I would line my little stuffed animals up, and I had a chalkboard in my room. I would play teacher all the time,” she recalled.
But it would be a roundabout journey making education a career. She studied pre-law as an undergraduate at Converse College and worked for a couple of years as a social worker with Moore County Department of Social Services. The challenging situations she experienced in social work eventually led her to seek another avenue where she could continue to impact the lives of young people: the classroom.
Lockamy worked as a kindergarten teacher assistant while pursuing licensure in elementary education. The class she worked with was an inclusion class for students with special needs.
“I fell in love with special education. So I changed my licensure path and became a Special Ed teacher. I did that for 15-16 years and loved every minute of it.”
A former Pinecrest administrator, where Lockamy had her first teaching job, recognized her potential for leadership and challenged her to pursue a career path in school administration.
“I remember this moment, and I laughed at her, respectfully,” she said. But 10 years later, that seed of an idea would prompt Lockamy to grow in another new direction that would ultimately bring her to West End Elementary as its principal.
Leadership for Lockamy does not come from a position or a title, but it is a quality someone has.
“I’m truly just a servant leader and strive to put others first,” she said. “Everyone has leadership in them.”
By returning to her roots in elementary education, Lockamy is excited to be a part of the foundation of young people’s education.
“There is your academic piece, and that’s huge obviously, but there’s so much more to it than just reading, writing and arithmetic,” she said. “It is truly about making sure that we produce really good people who know how to be kind, and know how to be servant leaders to others and that leadership is not the title that you hold, but how you treat people.”
These are values she instills within her own family. “I have a motto that we live by in our own house, and it is: ‘Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.’”
This kind of incremental improvement is how Lockamy is approaching her first year at West End.
“First and foremost, my number one priority is to build relationships with the families and with the parents and with the kids and with the staff. And then second, it is to let it roll like it’s been rolling and to get input and feedback. I want to see what is working well.”
She started that relationship building this summer, meeting with teachers individually and in small groups informally over coffee. She also met with students and their families at Popsicles with the Principals on July 21, where she was joined by Stacie Jeffreys, the school’s new assistant principal.
Lockamy strives to bring her authentic self to this position while expressing appreciation for the good work of the previous administration and current staff and families.
“I’m excited to see what kind of impact we can continue to make on the children here at West End. There has been a lot of great work that’s been going on here, and I’m here to just honor that and to see how we can just continue making it even better.”
Building on the existing, strong foundation excites Lockamy the most. “I think what I’m most excited about is: what kind of a family environment are we gonna make? And how are we going to make that family grow even more and help these kids grow even more, especially now that we’re coming out of COVID and we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? And we can kind of get these kiddos back into the groove of what normal school looks like?”
The Pinecrest Patriot turned WEE Warrior admits she might be biased, but she thinks that West End is the best school in the district.
“It’s not just the data, even though our data is great. It’s for all the reasons. There is a family here, and in the very short amount of time that I’ve been here, I already feel like I’m part of that and like I’ve been here forever.”
Contact Maggie Beamguard at email@example.com.