Rolesville Middle School Principal Dhedra Lassiter always reads the morning announcements, hoping to set a tone each day that reminds students and teachers she’s there for them.
On Thursday, just like so many other days, Lassiter recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the school’s Ram’s Pledge, urged the quick return of forms and cheered the football team’s victory over Wake Forest.
Then she had a final announcement that only one principal in Wake County could make that morning: a thank-you to her school for helping her become the county’s 2014 Principal of the Year.
“I am very honored to be your principal,” she said. “You make it absolutely wonderful to come to work every day. I am very proud of what we do.”
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The teachers and students who make up the community she’s helped build are proud, too. They lined the sidewalk and cheered as she arrived at school, rolled out a construction-paper red carpet for the front office and even tied balloons to her home mailbox.
Pam Fiely, who teaches seventh-grade science at Rolesville, said Lassiter inspires a can-do attitude among teachers that gets passed along to students.
“Everything she does is always about getting the best for the kids,” she said.
Lassiter, 48, began her career in Wake County in 1993 as a teacher at Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School. She then worked for the school system’s human resources department and later became assistant principal and then principal of Heritage Middle School.
When Lassiter left Heritage to become the first principal of Rolesville Middle when it opened in 2012, she was eager to craft a new community from scratch. She loved Heritage but was looking for a new challenge.
“It was time for me to grow and go,” she said.
Lassiter said the biotechnology program, teachers’ embrace of technology and efforts to build a positive school culture are among the highlights of the school’s first three years.
As Rolesville Middle evolves, Lassiter said she will focus on ensuring academics are the best they can be and creating strong professional learning communities that are sustainable for the long haul.
“I feel good about where we are, but I know we have to continue to weave the web even tighter,” she said.
With eight years’ experience as a principal, Lassiter said the award comes at the perfect time to reflect on her career so far. As she tried to sleep after the awards ceremony Wednesday night, Lassiter said, she kept returning again and again to memories of the people who helped her along the way.
Danny Barnes, the principal at Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle when she arrived, was the first to plant the seed that said she could be a principal, and others also helped her to see what was possible.
“This is a great honor for me, but it’s also ‘we,’ ” Lassiter said. “It’s about all of the people who helped me get here.”