Valdosta Daily Times

August 21, 2013

Assistant principal embracing small-town life

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Southeast Elementary School has proudly welcomed a new assistant principal to their school, Dr. Emmanuel T. Vincent.

Originally from Liberia in West Africa, Vincent is no stranger to moving. In 1983, he moved from Africa to Manhattan, N.Y., where his mother was a pastry chef. He then moved to Rhode Island with his dad and went to school there. He would later move to Boston, Mass. before coming to Savannah and ultimately Valdosta.

Having lived in several large cities, Vincent welcomes the small town atmosphere of Valdosta. "I have been getting acclimated. I love it. It has that small town feel. It's exciting and I am psyched that it [Valdosta] has sidewalks. I love running, so the sidewalks give me a place to run," Vincent said.

His love for Valdosta is made even stronger through his love of their school system. "The education system is great. We are all invested in changing things for the better. I love working with the kids; it's my passion. I can't believe I get paid to do this. I just love it." Vincent continued, "I look forward to coming to work every day. I am constantly coming up with new ideas and even on Sundays, I am sending out emails about my ideas. It's nice to know that my ideas will be considered."

He also spoke very highly of the staff at Southeast. “The principal and teachers have been very inviting. The staff has been phenomenal. Mrs. Miller has been very patient in showing me the day to day and welcoming me into the community,” he explained.

During his time at Southeast, Vincent has been hard at work to improve the school and help the children. Vincent shared some of his plans for helping to improve the school, "I want to make sure that parents have more of a shared ownership in educating their kids. I want to make sure that faculty are aware of new technologies that are out there. I want to be sure that at our school, we are culturally aware of the students that are sitting in front of us and that we are designing our curriculum to really meet that child front and center. I want to make sure that we have a collegial atmosphere. I also want to make sure that we are paying it forward by thinking of out of the box strategies to really move our students into the 21st century, because that's what really needs to happen."  

As for his favorite part of the job, Vincent explained, "I love coming to the school in the morning and helping with breakfast duty. As an administrator, you don't get to spend as much time with the kids as you do as a teacher, so it's cool to get to know them and be friendly with them when they are relaxed. I love the interaction with kids and with the educators."

To some, Southeast has been given a not so positive reputation. While some people might have a hard time acclimating to that, Vincent has handled it well. "I am a very patient person. I also believe that you can't teach without rules and measures in place. We try to make sure that our teachers are at the forefront of the designing process.” He continued, “My philosophy is this, which parallels that of the district and of the school, if the expectations are higher, students will perform. If parents are engaged, students will perform. If teachers expect more and do more, students will perform. If the administration supports teachers, parents, and students, then students will do more. In that atmosphere and with that mindset, I am not intimidated."

Before coming to the education field, Vincent worked for several large financial firms. He said of working in that field, "I didn't feel like I was doing anything. I saw something in myself that changed my mind and that led me to the education field. Ever since then, I haven't looked back."

Vincent went to undergraduate school at Rhode Island College. He got his first masters in Special Education and his second masters in Administration at Providence College. He then went to Johnston Wells and got his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies and his doctorate. Vincent has been in education for eight years. He has taught special education and english literature in middle/high school.

Dr. Emmanuel Vincent is married to Rebecca Vincent. They have three children, Emmanuel VI, Tore and Gabrielle.