Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 16, 2014

Meet Lanier County High’s new principal

LAKELAND — Whether it’s on the field or in his office, Howard Akers believes teamwork is the best approach. As the new principal for Lanier County High School, this attitude will be his focus as he leads his new team of students and teachers.

“I really decided to go into education because I wanted to be a coach. I have a very athletic past and have always wanted to be able to coach kids. But as I got there, and this seems crazy in a way, but I realized I could reach more kids being a principal than a coach,” said Akers.

Though he knows the dynamic between a principal and student is different from coach and player, he felt he could serve students better by serving as an

administrator.

“I might not be as involved as I was when I was a coach, but as a coach you are just really intense with your team. As a principal, you get to deal with all of the kids. I didn’t want to give up coaching, but I felt I could have an influence on more people as an administrator,” he said.

With seven years of coaching, a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, and a master’s in educational leadership, Akers has had plenty of practice regarding teamwork. He has utilized these skills for the last 13 years as an administrator. Of his 20 years in education, 19 years were in Brooks County and one year in Turner County.

Akers said, “When you have a team, you obviously have to build a relationship with them. You have to establish your reliability. You have to build the same relationship with your faculty. You have to earn their respect and trust and you do that by the way you handle them as a team. I approach my position as a principal as a team leader. We are a team and we always have to support and help each other."

While some principals enter their new positions with plans of great change and huge overhauls, Akers doesn’t feel that approach is right for Lanier County. He has a great deal of respect for Superintendent Keith Humphrey and past principal Gene Culpepper and believes the school’s foundation is strong.

“As any principal would do, I’ve looked over their achievement scores and CCRPI scores and they are very good. What I want to do is add my touch within the framework that they have instilled and continue to grow it. I’m not looking to change anything or wave a magic wand. I just want to continue the job that they have done."

After touring the schools and looking through the system’s handbooks, Akers is excited to join the Lanier County School System.

“It just seems like a very structured environment. I’m a very structured person and I look forward to going there in a position that seems to be very structured. Things are already in place and protocols are already set; there is not any guess work.”

He enjoys working within a smaller school system.

“There are no bad things about small school systems. Brooks wasn’t much bigger and Lanier and Turner are very similar. Over the time I was in Brooks County, I literally knew every single student in that school. When the bell rings, I am in the hallway. Students will see me pretty much all day. Being visible is a very important part of leadership and in a smaller community you can do that. Part of being a team is being around each other and you can do that more easily in a smaller setting,” Akers said.

By spending more time with his faculty, Akers believes the faculty will feel more open about sharing their opinions. He plans to have leadership teams that will allow department chairs from each content area, as well as counselors and the assistant principals, to share opinions and discuss the school.

“I want everyone to know they can voice their opinion. There are some parts I will have to make a stand on, but for the most part, I want (input) from everyone. I believe they appreciate that and then they feel like they are part of the process. I want everyone to enjoy coming to work,” Akers said.

As principal, Akers’ top concern is the students.

“I want to try to be a role model for them. I plan to lead by example. I want them to see that I am there on time and hold me accountable for what I do and then I will hold them accountable, too. Building relationships with students is very important and I want to start right away."

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