Floyd Central principal had a big impact in a short amount of time PDF Print E-mail
When Floyd Central Principal Janie Whaley started on her educational career journey in 1973, she didn’t have a plan to get into administration.
In fact, she didn’t have a plan at all.

“I was a Spanish major and I really wasn’t fluent enough to be a translator or anything like that, so I got my teaching license,” she said. “I did a little bit with Spanish and got my masters pretty quickly after undergraduate in Library Science and really enjoyed that work.

“I can’t say (administration) was something I planned to do because it wasn’t. I was always looking for a challenge and a change. When you are looking for that you keep your eyes open for whatever opportunities come down the road. This one did. When the superintendent called me and offered me the job, I said, ‘bring it!’”

On June 30 when Whaley walks out of the school it will be her last time doing so as principal.

Her educational career took her to stops in Columbus, Huntington and Greater Clark before moving to New Albany-Floyd County schools in 1990.

Her first job at FC was Library Media Specialist.

“I know that’s a different path into administration than most people take, but it has worked well for me,” she said.

Whaley made the move into administration in 2000. She worked as an assistant principal before taking over as principal in 2012.

Whaley said she liked the assistant principal role because she feels like it’s easier to have an impact on the students.

“You feel like you are helping kids,” she said. “You shake hands as they go across the stage at graduation and a lot of them apologize. They say, ‘Sorry I gave you such a hard time,’ but I never remember a thing about that. Some you don’t reach, but there are some you feel like you connected with and made a difference.”

Every year students at FC accomplish so much, but one of the things Whaley is most proud of is the work students and staff have accomplished with the annual Dance Marathon.

In six years the dance marathon has raised $357,802.54 for Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

“I think the annual dance marathon has been the most astounding thing I have ever seen,” Whaley said. “It’s amazing the way that thing has grown and blossomed and the way the kids have gotten it in their teeth and run with it, has just been great.

“I brought the idea of the dance marathon to Floyd Central. I am from Northern Indiana and had heard of it. I had the idea, but I couldn’t get a sponsor to buy in and I kept asking and asking over a period of two or three years.”

Whaley said the Student Council sponsor at the time, Tiffany Stansbury, agreed to try and see what was all involved.

“We didn’t really know exactly what it was.” Whaley said. “We really had no idea. She put together three or four staff members to work with her as a team and then they worked with the kids. Until she stepped up we couldn’t do it.”

Now Whaley said Stansbury has three or four additional staff members who have gotten interested and involved.

“If they all take a piece here and there, then it’s not so big,” she said.

Outside of the money raised, the thing Whaley likes most about the school’s participation in the Dance Marathon is how it builds leaders.

“The dance marathon is the best leadership incubator we have because they divide up according to what they are good at,” she said. “They form teams. They have little groups of people working together, there is a morale committee, there is a fund-raising committee and a food committee, really a bunch of different little pieces to the whole thing. The kids learn so much.

Another thing Whaley loves about FC is the fact that a third of the students are involved in performing arts.

“All of our staff in performing arts are extraordinarily strong,” she said. “I really think that’s a lot of the strength of the building. We have at least one-third of the student population involved in performing arts. Whether or not they pursue a career in the arts doesn’t matter. It gives them a presence. A lot of the kids who have gone through Drama end up as attorneys and fields like that, because they know how to speak and present themselves.

“There is no way to pull that (performing arts) piece out and say, this contributed 55 percent to your success. There is no way to do that, but I know it does contribute to the success. I know our strong performing arts is a big chunk of what has helped this school in its pursuit of excellence.”

Whaley wouldn’t say it, but she is a big reason the school has been so successful. In a Washington Post story, FC was recently named one of the best high schools in the country.

FC staff and students say she gets a lot of the credit.

“It is very bittersweet to see her leave,” Stansbury said. “I am happy for her future and the time it will allow her to spend with her family, but I hate to see her leave our Floyd family. She will always hold a special place here.

“The biggest impact her leaving will have is her ability to make every student feel like she knows them personally. She cares about every single student in this school. Her smile is contagious and it was a nice addition to the atmosphere at Floyd. She saw every person in this building as an individual, not a number.”

Kayla Thompson, who is a sophomore at FC agrees with Stansbury.

“I love having Mrs. Whaley,” Thompson said. “She does nothing but try to make our school great. She is very active in all students’ lives. She is kind and gentle and genuine. She encourages students to do their best and always has a smile on her face.

“She comes in everyday and there is something about her that seems like there is no place else she’d rather be.”

The students are what Whaley said she will miss the most.

“I get my energy from the kids and I am not sure what I am going to do without them,” she said.

As for how she will spend her days, Whaley said she hasn’t had much time to think about it. One of the first things on the agenda is a trip to France.

“We have a trip planned to France this summer and we are considering Greece, Turkey and the Holy Land this fall, but that’s not set in stone yet,” she said. We have one step-son in Texas and another in Alexandria Virgina and it will be nice to be able to visit them other than when you are squishing in a few days of a break. We can work more with their schedules.”

The student newspaper “The Bagpiper” did a large feature on Whaley and gave her a keep sake of the front page where each member of the paper wrote her a note.

Many of the seniors noted they were happy to have her leaving with them in the Class of 2016.

As for those students who remain, Thompson said it will be an adjustment not having Whaley around.

“I think her leaving will change a lot,” Thompson said. “Students love having her to lean on and she encourages us all to be our own person. It is going to be hard to find someone who is as devoted to the job as her and that can manage it the way she has done.”

The person who will be tasked with that is Dr. Robert Willman, who currently works as Whaley’s assistant for staff and curriculum.

Whaley said she plans to keep tabs on happenings at Floyd Central and she knows Willman will do fine.

As far as advice she will pass along as she hands the baton to Dr. Willman, is pretty simple – “Just keep Floyd Central a caring place,” she said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 09:22