Coming from a family of educators, a career in teaching seemed natural for Nancy Lovelady, the principal of Dearing Elementary School.
Her mother and her sisters were teachers, and her father urged her to follow in their footsteps.
“I would say my family influenced me, but I’ve never regretted any of it,” she said.
Lovelady spent more than 20 years teaching elementary school in Gwinnett, Columbia and Lincoln counties and said she loved her time in the classroom.
She especially enjoyed teaching second, third and fourth grades. She said she has seen many new teachers express a desire to teach lower elementary classes because they think they will like working with small children, and then find it more challenging than they expected. But she found she works best with the upper elementary level.
She didn’t consider becoming an administrator until she began working for the state department in the school reform program in 2001.
Part of her job was modeling how to set up reading and writing blocks in low-performing schools in Richmond County, and in doing so she found she enjoyed working with the teachers and administrators as much as she did working with the children.
Three years later, she became an administrator in McDuffie County, which included a stint as vice principal, then principal at Norris Elementary School.
Two years ago she became principal at Dearing Elementary and said she really enjoys being back in a school that offers pre-K through fifth grades.
“I didn’t realize before, when I was at Norris, how much I missed all the other age groups,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed the little ones. I don’t want to teach kindergarten, but I sure do love to see them every day,” she said.
Lovelady said she enjoys meeting the challenges she faces as an administrator. Problems range from transportation issues to students who are attending out of zone to curriculum.
“You’re not only trying to take care of the children in your school, you’re trying to take care of your employees,” she said. “You’re trying to do what’s best for the children. It is challenging.”
The hardest part, she said, is when she tries to do what is best for the child, but it doesn’t please the parents. However, she said she tries to be fair in her decisions.
Lovelady also has a competitive side, borne out of her love of sports. If she sees another school doing something a little different, she will try it.
She said that competitiveness pushes her to do a little better at whatever she does.
“I don’t want to be at this level if the bar is set a little bit higher and I can get there,” she said.
During the week, Lovelady is devoted to Dearing Elementary School. But on the weekends, she can be found spending time with her mother in Lincolnton, reading or watching sports. She enjoys being outdoors whenever possible.
“The other thing I truly love to do is work in my yard,” she said. “That relieves stress for me.”