The New Principals of Pocahontas County Schools –Part 1

It’s not just the 2016-2017 school year that’s new, but 4 of the 5 schools in Pocahontas County have new Principals. As a way of introduction we interviewed each of them. I asked them about themselves, their educational philosophies and their primary focuses and challenges as new principals.

In Part 1, we will hear from Phillip Anderson, the new Principal at Marlinton Elementary School and from Becky Spencer, the new Hillsboro Elementary Principal.

First up is Mr. Phillip Anderson who describes background.

“My teaching career started in Pocahontas County in 2005 at Green Bank as a History and Social Studies Teacher for 6th, 7th and 8th” said Anderson. “The next year I moved to Marlinton Middle School as a Health and P.E. Teacher. The following year I moved to the High School as a Social Studies slash P.E. slash Driver’s Ed. Teacher. After that I moved into a Social Studies position until the fall of 2015 where I became a Substitute Teacher at Marlinton Elementary

What’s Anderson’s leadership approach?

“I like to lead by example” Anderson says. “My door will always be open for teachers, parents and students. I like to give Teachers their own space to have their own ideas and leadership responsibilities.

What’s does Anderson see as his main focus and challenge as a new Principal?

“To keep the kids safe and secure and comfortable and to educate them” explains Anderson. “Because at the Elementary School you are molding these children for the future, so it’s a vital time. This is it, this is where they begin, and this is their roots. So to me, it’s very important that they get a good foundation at the elementary school.  It all begins there. They’re beginning their personalities; they’re learning the roots of the foundation of their education. It feels good to see that happening.”

Next up is the new Principal at Hillsboro Elementary School, Mrs. Becky Spencer who tells us a little about herself.

“I’ve had the opportunity to teach almost every grade, pre-school through high school, in 3 different counties” Spencer says. “I’ve been in Pocahontas County over the last 14 years. I have a Reading Masters and a Pre-School as well as a k through 8 Multi-Subject Degree and have completed the Principal-ship and moved into Administration. So, I feel the background helps me bring a lot to the table to be able to see not only what the children should be doing at that age level, but to see where they go from there –to see the bigger picture.”

Her Philosophy?


“We aren’t just looking at academics or numbers of statistics.” says Spencer. “Not just those numbers on the paper or the test score they completed or how well they read, but how can we build this child into being the best adult they can be.”

Challenges at Hillsboro?

“Hillsboro is phenomenal, it has very few challenges” Spencer says. “It is a wonderful community with fabulous parental support. I’d say the only challenge is to increase that knowledge base. Hillsboro is currently doing statistically very well, above State standard, but I would like every child to have 100% success in both reading and math. So my one challenge would be to raise the bar, so that everyone is not compared just to the State standards, but every child achieves at grade level.”

In part 2 we will talk with Dustin Lambert, the young new Principal at Marlinton Middle School, and with new PCHS Principal Joe Riley.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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