Principal Who?

Lola Hart, Contributor

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A new principal at Kohala High school? Who is this person on campus? Let’s get to know her! The Principal’s name is Amy Jo McNaughton Stafford. “My family was actually going to name me after my dad, his name is Bob, and I was going to be Bobby Jo, and I think I am happy with being Amy Joe.” 

She was born in Salinea, Ohio and lived there for about 10 years of her life. “I am almost reaching the age of 50 and I currently live in Waikoloa Village.” Her childhood consisted of fun family get-together. “Both my mom and dad have really big families so all of the time up through until I was 10, was with cousins and other family members”. 

I asked her what it was like in school when she was growing up. Mrs. Stafford explained to me that when she was in school, she considered herself a “Goody Goody.” She was always doing her homework neatly, impressing teachers, and never broke the rules.

Mrs. Stafford went to college in Northeast Florida at Flagler College. “I liked it a lot up there. I took a chance, it was the only school I applied to because I knew I needed a smaller college. I thought that the bigger state colleges would be too big for me, and the major that I wanted to go into, specialized at that school.”

 Some of the hobbies that Mrs. Stafford has is to go to her kid’s soccer practices and games and when she has absolutely nothing to do, she prefers to binge-watch tv series, read books, and going to the beach with the whole family. Then I asked her what her favorites were: “Food is easy because I can pretty much eat pizza or Mexican any day of the week. Those are two favorites and my go-to food.” What about movies? “The kinds of movies that I like, make me laugh and have deep meanings in them. I do not like cheesy or scary movies.” The music that Mrs. Stafford listens to varies between reggae and ’70s. 

“When I was younger I already knew that I wanted to be in the education profession. I used to line up my stuffed animals and I would keep gradebooks with kids in my class that I did not like and I would give them all of the F’s and the kids I did like, I would give them good grades. I always knew that being a teacher is what I wanted to do.”

Being a principal was not on the radar for Mrs. Stafford. “When the first lava flow came, I was working at a school in Pahoa, they had to close the school for a year and so I transferred to Honokaa Elementary, and after about a year of working there, I was asked to be the Vice Principal. This was called being a Teacher on Temporary assignment as vice principal. “I was actually surprised that I really really liked it so I decided to be in the admin program” She did her time here at Kohala as an intern vice principal and she loved the community of people and then after a few years, she thought she was ready to be a Principal.

“Lots of people helped me get to where I am today. Growing up, it was my parents and family that supported me and gave me a really good foundation. Through different stages of my life, it was my teachers and professors that I worked with and principals that I have worked for. The person for the last 25 years that had supported me and helped me the most is my husband. He is the complete opposite of me but he is the one that loves me but also challenges me. So without him, I don’t think I would be in the position I am in now.”

“When I was first a teacher, I learned that school was not a place that people liked to be. People weren’t enjoying school and for me it was so enjoyable. One thing that I hope to have at our school is that this is a place where everyone feels comfortable. I want this to be a place where everybody feels safe making mistakes. The biggest thing I want my students to know is that you can do anything you want to do. There may be opportunities that happen for one reason or another but I hope that we can get the message across that you want to know that you have done everything you can to pursue an area that you enjoy. So if it does not work out, you will know that you did your best to get there and you have no regrets.” 

Now we know. Mrs. Stafford is just like anybody else. When you see her on campus, don’t forget to say hello and spark up a conversation. She is here to make our school a better place to be and will continue leading us to greatness. 

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