This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

After a year as assistant principal at South Caldwell High, Michael Wyant is taking the reins as principal at Gamewell Middle School.

Wyant, who describes himself as a student-centered principal with high expectations on both behavior and academics, said parents won’t see many changes when school starts next week.

“There won’t be anything new right away,” he said in an interview Monday. “I’m not one that comes in and changes things just to be changing them. I want to make sure I know what’s going on before we start making changes.”Wyant said after examining test scores and other data, he sees Gamewell as a school on the upswing.

“It has really been improving, not just in academics but in behavior, in expectations,” he said. “I think the staff here deserve a lot of credit.”

He added that one of the first challenges he’ll tackle is external. Perception of the school is good among parents, teachers and students, and within the Gamewell community, he said. Farther out, it gets trickier. Wyant said he wants to get the word out about positive developments at Gamewell and improve public perception of the school.

“I think the people here realize it,” he said. “But you get out of Gamewell and out of Caldwell County and the perception is that Gamewell is not as good as it really is.”

Like other schools across North Carolina, will face challenges in 2013-14, Wyant said, starting with a state education budget that legislators say increases public education spending overall but that many educators say includes debilitating cuts.

The budget cuts spending on things such as textbooks and instructional supplies. Wyant said it “could have been worse,” but that it will be a test for Gamewell.

“It is a challenge that we have to face and we have to overcome – and we can’t use that as an excuse for not doing our jobs,” he said.

Gamewell teachers and administrators will also be working in 2013-14 to continue adapting to the new Common Core state standards, Wyant said. Adopted by 45 states so far, Common Core is an attempt to standardize K-12 education and to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn.” The standards were implemented in North Carolina in the 2012-13 school year.

Scores for some Common Core tests won’t be back until October – later than initially expected – so teachers will work to understand what needs to be emphasized and adapted throughout the year, Wyant said.

Wyant worked as one of South Caldwell High School’s assistant principals for the 2012-13 year. Before that, he was principal at Watauga High School in Boone from 2008 to 2012. He has worked in teaching and administrative positions since 1988, working for the Lincoln County Schools, the Hickory City Schools and the Catawba County Schools before he came to Watauga County.

He holds a bachelor’s in math education, a master’s in school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Appalachian State University.