When teachers and students return to Lebanon Road Elementary School this week, a familiar face will be missing: Principal Guyla Vardell, 65, has retired.
After teaching in Florida for two years, Vardell began her career in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1970 as a fourth-grade teacher at Westerly Hills Elementary. She then moved to Central Piedmont Community College, where she was a teacher in its demonstration day care center.
When her daughter was born, Vardell led adult classes at the college. After her twins were born, she started volunteering in direct services to children and families and in advocacy for children's issues before rejoining CMS in Parent Involvement in the Title I Department. She held several positions there and was part of the team that put together the Bright Beginnings program.
She then decided she wanted to return to the schoolhouse and was named assistant principal at Elizabeth Lane Elementary, then assumed the same role at Allenbrook Elementary.
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She was named principal at Lebanon Road seven years ago. During her tenure there, she has seen test scores improve while the school has become increasingly diverse.
"I've been lucky enough to be at Lebanon Road during a time of remarkable change in demographics. Our school has become increasingly diverse," said Vardell.
Over her four decades in education, she's seen changes both good and bad. On the positive side, she says the extensive student data, collected through EOG testing and other tools, have enabled teachers to fine-tune instruction for each child.
On the not-so-good side, she says, society has gotten so fast-paced that children often aren't given the time they need to develop.
A new principal has not yet been chosen, but Vardell says retired Principal Martha Carpenter will serve as interim principal until a replacement is named.