Lake Norman & Mooresville

Principal's goal is to be partner

James T. Garvin, principal of Cornelius Elementary School, has great expectations, new goals set and is anticipating another successful year for the Cougars.

School across the Charlotte Mecklenburg system start the 2010-2011 year today.

Three of Garvin's main focuses this year will be on the improvement of reading comprehension for his students, better communication with parents and starting up various partnerships with community organizations and businesses.

Garvin has set expectations and goals in the hopes of seeing an increase in reading test scores by the end of this year. The reading curriculum at Cornelius will focus on reading comprehension, as well as the teaching of students to interact with the text.

Parents of Cornelius will receive a questionnaire at the beginning of this school year to share with Garvin their preferred method of communication. Garvin hopes this information will allow for better and more effective interaction between teachers and parents.

He will continue to send out a monthly newsletter and meet with parents at Dilworth Coffee House in Cornelius the third Wednesday of every month. Garvin also hopes to use Skype for face-to-face conferences and believes the convenience of the concept will aid in better communication.

Cornelius Elementary has formed partnerships with Huntersville Presbyterian Hospital, Davidson's Ingersoll-Rand Industrial Technologies, and the North Mecklenburg Women's League. Workers at these businesses and organizations volunteer time to help with the students learn and assist with special projects. Garvin also plans to focus on recruiting more partnerships .

This will be Garvin's second year as principal of Cornelius Elementary. . He has made it a priority to strengthen morale, and he involves teachers, students, staff, parents and the community in decision-making.

"I treat people as professionals and respectfully for who they are in their area of expertise," said Garvin.

He openly shares his strong belief in treating others the way he wants to be treated. Garvin was born and raised in North Carolina. He enjoys reading all genres and cooking when time permits. But most of all, he cherishes the time spent with his family. He has five nieces and nephews and is helping to instill in them the responsibility they have to assist others. Garvin also believes in having a strong relationship with God.

His deep-rooted compassion for people and assisting them comes from the motivation and inspiration of his 87-year-old grandfather. When his grandfather moved from York, S.C., to Gastonia in the third grade, he owned one pair of shoes, two shirts and two pair of pants. He dreamed that someday he would become a successful businessman. Garvin's grandfather did become a successful entrepreneur. He was able to provide for his family, educate his children and grandchildren, and never turned away anyone that would come knocking on his door.

Garvin is grateful for the values instilled in him by his grandfather and the choices he witnessed his grandfather make. He says that is the motivation behind his dedication.

"I am responsible for 700 students and the adults in this building," said Garvin. "I take very seriously my responsibility of being held accountable for everyone."

"Take time every day to read to your children," is Garvin's advice to parents.

He recommends parents take advantage of the environment to aid in learning. Have children read signs while food shopping, for example, and discuss the different vegetables and meats.

He recalls taking a drive with his nieces and nephews and discussing the meanings of the different colors of the traffic lights. "Exposure is the key," said Garvin.