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Siler City Elementary's Savage rises as district's top principal

SILER CITY — A team of Chatham County Schools administrators showed up at Siler City Elementary School to inform Dr. Larry Savage that he is the district’s 2019 Wells Fargo Principal of the Year.

But Savage wasn’t in his office — hardly ever is.

“Always moving,” Siler City Elementary Assistant Principal Tania Poston said.

The admin team caught up with Savage, and they found him tucked away in a classroom, where he was taking notes on a teacher whom he was evaluating. Savage accepted a bouquet of flowers from Superintendent Dr. Derrick D. Jordan, thanked everybody for helping him do what he does and graciously walked the visitors to the door.

And then Savage went back to work. That’s what he does.

“All the time,” Poston said. “You notice he didn’t leave the observation.”

That gets at how Savage was able to galvanize the Siler City Elementary staff and have them pull in the same direction toward getting the school off the state’s list of schools designated as low-performing. Siler City Elementary had been a D school, according to the state’s scoring system for schools. Siler City Elementary moved up to a C after the 2016-17 school year, and the overall student body has exceeded expectations for growth the past two years. It means the school’s educators have nurtured students beyond the state’s standards.

“For us to go from a D to a C required us to really up our overall test performance, irrespective of growth,” Savage said. “We’re pushing for a B at the end of 2018-19. That’s one of our major school goals for the year.”

Siler City Elementary was three points shy of earning a B last school year.

It was five years ago when Savage began assembling hands on the proverbial rope that would pull Siler City Elementary toward growth.

“Still no time to rest,” Savage insisted. “We’ve got to do this for our students. They deserve it.”

It’ll happen, because it’s going to require work, and Savage knows how to do that, Poston explained.

“He really knows how to see the gift inside of each person, and he pulls that out of them,” she said.

Published Oct. 8, 2018