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Leader named at MHS

July 27, 2011

Martinsville Bulletin

A Collinsville educator has been named principal of Martinsville High School.

Amaju “Aji” Dixon, an assistant principal at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, will begin the job on Aug. 8.

Dixon has served as special education administrator and administrator for the ninth grade during the past year at William Fleming High School. While there, he held a variety of leadership responsibilities, including oversight of social studies and the school’s bus transportation, and assisting with personnel evaluation, according to a news release.

Before joining Roanoke City Schools in 2010, Dixon worked as a teacher and administrator in Henry County Schools for seven years. He taught social studies at Magna Vista High School starting in 2003, chaired the social studies department, and then served as the seventh-grade assistant principal at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School from 2008-10, the release said.

“I am impressed by Mr. Dixon’s enthusiasm and support for the mission and vision of Martinsville City Public Schools. He is clearly knowledgeable about best practices for instruction and Effective Schools research,” said Martinsville School Superintendent Pam Heath. “He demonstrates the characteristics of a decisive leader, yet is someone who listens to all stakeholders and is a team player. We are excited to have him join our professional learning community.”

Dixon “has roots in the community and is excited to be here,” Heath said during an interview Tuesday. “He is really ready to get started.”

He was among about 20 applicants for the principalship, Heath said, adding that the applicants were from Virginia, North Carolina and “halfway across the country.” All but one were assistant principals, she said.

The fact that Dixon lives in Collinsville is a “pleasant coincidence,” Heath said. She added that she did not know him before he applied.

Heath said school officials relied heavily on a survey filled out by about 110 teachers, staff, students and parents. Respondents’ top priorities were for a principal who is a decisive leader, is ethical, has a process for recruiting top quality staff members, effectively advocates for school issues and needs, has expertise in curriculum and instruction, has teaching and prior administrative experience, and who lives in the area, she said.

Dixon is personable and a team player who will listen to others, Heath said.

“He wants to come in and listen. He’s not going to be making changes just to be changing,” she said. “He cares about all kids. I think he will relate well to all of our students and parents.”

Dixon will be paid $80,000 a year, Heath said.

A 1999 graduate of Patrick County High School, Dixon received a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice from East Tennessee State University and a master’s of education from Cambridge College in Chesapeake. He has begun post-graduate level coursework and said he hopes to complete a doctorate in the future.

“My philosophy is that all students can learn,” Dixon said. When parents send their children to school, he said, they are entrusting educators with “the best they have to offer the community and the world. Every day when students come to Martinsville High School, they’re going to get a quality education, and they’re going to come to a school that’s nurturing, caring and safe.”

Dixon said his focus will be “building upon the great things already going on at Martinsville High School.”

“The first thing I plan to do is sit down and listen to people’s ideas and concerns,” he said, adding that he hopes to learn of the different interests of parents, teachers and students, and then work collaboratively to address them.

Dixon called the position “a great opportunity.”

“I've always enjoyed living in Martinsville. Working with young people is one of my greatest passions, especially young people of that age,” he said. “High school is a very pivotal, important point in a person’s life.”

Dixon is married to Crystal Walker Dixon, whose mother, Linda Littlejohn, teaches kindergarten at Patrick Henry Elementary School. The Dixons have two children: Elijah, 4, and Daniel, 3 months.

Dixon is a member of Mount Sinai Apostolic Church, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

He will succeed Natasha Rowell, who left the MHS job in June to become a high school principal in Green Bay, Wis.




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