Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
Allison Guynn, principal of South Macon Elementary School (SME) has been chosen as Macon County’s Principal of the Year. Guynn has been in the educational field for 22 years. She started out teaching in a Resource Exceptional Children’s classroom in Clewiston, Fla., and then taught in her childhood hometown LaBelle, Fla., for 10 years in second thru fifth grade classrooms. Her family relocated to Franklin in July 2007, and she accepted a job at Cowee Elementary teaching fourth grade. Guynn loved teaching at Cowee, and stayed there for four years, before accepting the position as the assistant principal of South Macon, a position she held for four years and then became the principal of South Macon Elementary in 2017.
Guynn explains her job as principal.
“Just like our teachers, as a principal you wear many hats. Your job revolves around meeting the needs of your students, their families, and the staff members that work in your building,” said Guynn. “Your job description only gives you a glimpse of what you will be asked to do, but as a principal and teacher, you look for things you need to do and that make a difference.”
Guynn’s responsibilities are many. From supervising transportation, car lines and greeting students, to budgets, schedules and policy making. She also hires and evaluates staff, assesses teaching methods, and works to create school improvement plans. She plans school activities, addresses maintenance issues and is visibly present to mitigate problems that could arise and stays in touch with students and staff and daily activities that affect members of the school.
“I just do what needs to be done, whether it be cleaning a toilet, bandaging a scratched elbow, opening car doors, or calling subs for a sick teacher. Being a principal, just like a teacher means you do whatever needs to be done in order to meet the needs of our children and their families. You do it because you love children.”
Guynn speaks about some of the daily struggles of being a principal. She said it is about managing work-life balance and having enough in the tank to take care of your personal needs and taking care of your family while also being responsible for so many others. Time management is essential along with prioritizing what needs to be addressed first.
In these challenging times, Guynn is also responsible for seeing to the health concerns – both mental and physical – of students and staff, being creative about how to address requirements and mandates and keeping a positive attitude through the changes and demands.
Although some tasks are daunting there are many rewards that come with the job. Guynn remarks, “The children are definitely the best part of this job! I feel blessed every time I am somewhere in town and a child sees me and excitedly says, ‘Mrs. Guynn!’, then runs up to give me a hug or waves. You don’t get any better than that. … Assisting teachers in order to make their job easier, and impact our community is always rewarding. Being a part of many lives and knowing that God has blessed me with this position. With this blessing comes a lot of responsibility, but so rewarding.”
Guynn is always willing to offer helpful advice to beginning teachers.
“Remember to take time for yourself,” she said. “You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself. Be professional in your job and in your personal choices. As teachers, we are a role model for our students.
“Treat each child like they are your own. Be fair, firm when needed and show love to your students. They have needs we don’t always know about, but it is our job to reach them.
“Be flexible with yourself and your students. We are all learning through this process.
“Ask for help and build relationships with veteran teachers. Learn from their years of experience.”
When asked for specific advice for this school year she said that remaining flexible is definitely a necessity. She said it is also important to support other educators and stay positive for the children.
“You are important. You are making a difference, our children need you; hang in there,” she said.
Guynn has been married to Billy Guynn for 22 years. They have three children, their oldest is starting her junior year at NC State in the Mechanical Engineering program; their middle child is a sophomore at FHS and their youngest is a rising freshman at FHS. They have a shih tzu that is about a year old. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and the camaraderie she gains through crossfit classes at Kavod.
“For me, throughout my life, the words that have helped me are, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” she said.
Even though this year will be presenting many new challenges and new situations, Guynn is confident she and her teachers will rise to the occasion.
“I have missed what school looked like. I have missed the children occupying our buildings and buses. I am willing to do whatever it takes to get our students back to school. I know our teachers are also ready to love and teach our students. They are hard workers, and looking for ways to improve, and prepare for these new challenges. We will work together to do our best to protect children while educating them. I know it will be difficult, and at times seem impossible, but together we can creatively adapt for this season,” she concluded.