Thursday, August 12, 1999

Visit by principal can be fun

Elmwood Place school's boss gets acquainted

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ELMWOOD PLACE — Summer's still here, yet the elementary school principal just knocked on the front door.

        These are visits with only pleasant overtones. John Estep, new principal at Elmwood Place Elementary School, is getting acquainted with some of the school's families.

        His goal: To chat with people in 50 homes before classes start Aug. 25.

        Wednesday morning, he walked the neighborhood sur rounding the school at Maple and Vine streets, looking for addresses among the mostly small, older houses with well-kept yards and flower beds. He carried a legal pad listing names of families he had arranged to visit.

        “My philosophy is, these parents are my customers. I need to be on their porch,” said Mr. Estep, the third principal in three years at the 375-student school. “The visits are a way to start off the year in a positive manner. The closer we work with the parents, the better the results.

        “A lot of people tell me no one ever came to visit before, unless something bad had happened.”

        Mindful of a “Beware of the Dog” sign, he reached over the fence alongside the porch to knock at Lindsay Toles' house. Lindsay, 8 and a third-grader, stepped outside with her mother, Debbie.

        A little wide-eyed at a visit from the principal, Lindsay shyly shook hands and nodded to Mr. Estep's questions.

        “Are you ready to come back to school? This should be your greatest year ever,” said Mr. Estep, a teacher and administrator for 16 years in the Princeton school district before coming to the mostly blue-collar Elmwood Place.

        He answered a couple of questions from Mrs. Toles, explained a new “Question of the Day” student contest and talked about changes at the school before heading to the next address.

        At Mr. Estep's knock, six youngsters spilled out the front door onto Angela McKinney's front porch — three of her own, three she baby-sits. Two of her children will be attending Elmwood Place this fall.

        “I've never seen anyone so interested and energetic,” Mrs. McKinney said. “When the kids know someone personally, they adapt better.”


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- Visit by principal can be fun