Working to Build Relationships
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JULY 7, 2017 – Since being named principal at Middle Fork Elementary, Tasha Hall-Powell has been thinking about her grandmother.
Hall-Powell’s grandmother, Agnes Hall, started her career in education teaching kindergarten. She went on to become an elementary school principal and later served as a school board member in Hertford County, N.C. Over the years, she encouraged her granddaughter as she found her own path in education.
“She served as a great mentor for me to pursue school administration,” Hall-Powell said.
And now here she is – principal of her own school.
“I’m very enthusiastic and thankful for the opportunity to do what works for kids,” she said.
After joining Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2009 as a teacher and Learning Team Facilitator at East Forsyth Middle School, Hall-Powell became an Instructional Facilitator based in the school system’s Central Office in 2011. She worked with Star3, a Federal Teacher Incentive Fund that explored ways to help teachers and administrators at low-performing schools become strong leaders as they helped students become more successful.
In 2014, Hall-Powell became the curriculum coordinator at what is now Cook Literacy Model School. In 2015, she became the assistant principal at Middle Fork.
The school sits on a residential road in Walkertown, off the beaten path, and for Hall-Powell, that makes it a hidden treasure. “Our parents and students are the core of what makes Middle Fork a special place to be. We have a small family feel with a big heart for serving young scholars and their families,” says Hall-Powell.
Many students and parents know her as Ms. H-P.
Middle Fork is a Title I school where 100 percent of the students are eligible for free meals. The school has a BackPack food program that sends home food with students for the weekend. It also has a mentoring program for students and a new teacher support program.
It’s a time of transition for Middle Fork. As part of a state project created to increase the success of students in low-performing schools, in 2018, it will become a Literacy Lab School under the administration of Appalachian State University. As part of the project, Middle Fork will become a school that educators from other schools can visit to see approaches designed to increase student success.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to create a new culture for Middle Fork and to be a part of this exciting merger with Appalachian State University,” Hall-Powell said.
Those who have worked with Hall-Powell think she will do an excellent job in the coming days.
Rhonda Lang is the Social Worker for the Child and Family Support Team based at Middle Fork.
“I am excited about Ms. Hall-Powell becoming Principal at Middle Fork Elementary,” Lang said. “During her time here as an Assistant Principal I have found Ms. Hall-Powell to be a caring administrator and a team player.
“Ms. Hall-Powell works hard to build relationships with students so she can motivate them and provide effective interventions. She wants to get to the root of students' needs and address it with a team approach to maximize their potential. If I had to summarize what I have seen in Ms. Hall-Powell I would say she just wants to do what is good and what is right to help children grow and be successful.”
“In her new role as Principal, I believe she will continue to be student-centered and empower staff to help students grow emotionally, socially and academically. I think her passion for growth and learning will also be an asset to Middle Fork's transition as a Lab School with Appalachian State University.”
“Whereas some people became anxious about the change Ms. Hall-Powell has embraced it and fostered excitement. I believe she will do very well as Principal and I look forward to continue working with her on behalf of students and families.”
Dossie Poteat is the Principal at East Forsyth Middle School.
“Tasha has a heart and enthusiasm for student success,” Poteat said. “Her background of working with the STAR3 initiative should provide a solid foundation of integrating research-based practices for instruction.”
“Tasha is truly a collaborator. She makes decisions for student improvement after input from numerous trusted and knowledgeable sources. Tasha is a lifelong learner. She implements the knowledge she gains in appropriate areas for students and teachers.”
Hall-Powell was born in Ahoskie, a town in the northeastern part of North Carolina known as the Inner Banks. She spent most of her early life in San Diego, Calif., and graduated from San Diego State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Moving to North Carolina to be closer to family, she then earned a Master’s in School Administration in 2001 from Appalachian State. In 2009, she went on to earn an ED.S. in Education Leadership at Appalachian State.
“I am grateful for my mother and father who always encouraged me to pursue my dream of serving as a school administrator and advocate for children. They have always encouraged me to lead with integrity and fairness.”
While in college, she also worked as a teacher assistant and drove a school bus part-time. Those experiences helped her understand the challenges for teacher assistants and bus drivers as well as for teachers.
“While in high school, I developed a love for children as my mom operated her own child care center for military families in San Diego, while also working as a county social worker for family adoptions. I have been blessed to work with students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade throughout my adulthood.”
“I just enjoy young people,” Hall-Powell said. “My goal is to help them discover their own potential.”
Coming to Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools enabled her to work closely with teachers and administrators throughout the school system.
“The coaching position offered me opportunities to work with principals and teachers on best practices for student achievement,” she said.
Middle Fork was one of the schools that she served in that capacity. Teressa Wachob, who teaches fifth grade at Middle Fork, said that she appreciates the way that Hall-Powell interacts with teachers.
“She treats everybody the same,” Wachob said. “She tries to back her teachers as much as possible.”
And she is good with students.
“I am excited about her becoming principal,” Wachob said. “She deserves it. I wish her the best. She is going to be an excellent principal.”
While she was an assistant principal, Hall-Powell served as the fundraising chair for the Forsyth Assistant Principals Association.
Hall-Powell has two children and one granddaughter, Nevaeh, who goes to kindergarten in Charlotte where her oldest son, Travis is a manager for a retail store. Jayden, who is 13, is a rising eighth-grader at East Forsyth Middle.
“He has a heart for basketball,” she said.
She attends his games, and they enjoy taking trips together.
Hall-Powell has a packed life. She is also working on her doctorate from Gardner Webb University and she is now working on her dissertation. The topic is “The Impact of Leadership Development on Principal Efficacy.”
She is using material she gathered as a trainer with the National Institute for School Leadership, a training established as part of Star3 for the district that focused on creating an environment in each school that supports student achievement.
The people at Appalachian are looking forward to working with Hall-Powell.
Dean Melba Spooner of the Reich College of Education said: “Ms. Hall-Powell brings a strong connection with, and care for the Middle Fork Community. She brings a unique blend of experience in the school district, specifically with Middle Fork Elementary School and has worked as an instructional facilitator which will enhance and reinforce the strong focus on professional development for teachers and growth and learning potential for students.
“Her vision for Middle Fork Elementary as a lab school and specifically for the literacy lab are great strengths for her selection as principal for this school.”
Robin Groce, an Associate Professor of Reading Education, said, “I would personally add that her strengths are the love she demonstrates for the children, families, and staff of Middle Fork, her strong educational and professional background, and her vision of Middle Fork as a lab school with specificity to the Literacy Lab.”