Principal Road Trip Day 4: West Terre Haute, Newton

Share this Article

  • Email

September 19, 2018

How many elementary buildings have a museum? How amazing is that? Sugar Creek Elementary in West Terre Haute, IN, has on display all the district’s artifacts from band uniforms to composite pictures to old scoreboards. The artifacts tell the history of the district. Retired school personnel volunteer time to coordinate the efforts.

This type of activity personifies the leadership of Dr. Suzanne Marrs, who has her eye on bringing unique opportunities and challenges to the students of Sugar Creek. She is proud of the elementary musicals that are produced as a result of grant opportunities, as well as the reading challenge that was put forth to students – to read 40,000,000 words. Classroom treasure chests dot the hallway with gold pieces and gems representing the words read. 

Reading Recovery is offered to Sugar Creek students, where teachers can observe the lessons behind one-way glass.  
Work/life balance is always a concern in our profession and Dr. Marrs identifies how she manages everything.

Thank you for the wonderful visit, Suzanne!


Lots Going On in Newton, IL

Venturing to Jasper County Schools located in Illinois, I was immediately struck by the warmth of the community as multiple people waved at a complete stranger as the NAESP/Meemic car rolled into town.
Travis Wyatt holds dual principal building duties at Newton (Blue Ribbon School 2010) and Ste. Marie Elementary schools. Travis gave a tour of the building and brought me outside to the playground, where the superintendent, Andrew Johnson, was outside interacting with the students at lunch recess. He said that he enjoys interacting with kids and attempts to minimize the time that he spends in his office. 
Newton Elementary students began a coffee cart business that requires a food sanitation class prior to being “hired.” The students take orders from staff, make the beverages and make change. They are tackling skills in a real-world context!

Travis’ district comprises 1,300 students K-12 and is the largest geographical district in Illinois. The schools serve as the social hub of the community. The community rallies together to support kids – packing bags of food each week to send home with students each Friday. Travis and I were able to assist this evening with the high school/middle school principal and another JCS school employee. It was awesome to help with Blessings in a Backpack!  

Travis noted that the staff is invested in the community and offers to pitch in wherever needed. The principals are even certified to drive the school buses if necessary!
Travis offers words of wisdom from his 20+ years of experience as a building principal.

Thank you Travis for your leadership in Jasper County Schools and sharing “The Eagle Way” with me today!


Eric Cardwell, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, is driving 4,500 miles through seven states during his two-week road trip. At each school, Eric will meet with the principal and learn about the great things going on at that school. Most recently, he was principal at Besser Elementary in Alpena, MI.
Questions & Feedback