Doranda Scott with Assistant Principal, Jennifer Rojohn

Doranda Scott with Assistant Principal, Jennifer Rojohn

On October 30, the Essex County Public School system said goodbye to a vital member in Essex Intermediate School’s success and harmony. 

For over the past two years, Doranda Scott has led the Essex Intermediate Bulldog family to excel, grow and break barriers as she served as the Principal. Scott, a Northern Neck native, came into leadership at EIS with the plan to leave an everlasting mark of love and encouragement for her scholars; what she didn’t realize was the effect she made on her staff as well. 

When Scott first revealed to her EIS staff members that she would be leaving the school district, staff members were upset. A wave of gasps and rebuttals filled the room as EIS’s faithful leader regretfully explained that she had to make a hard decision that was the best decision for herself and her family. The outpour of emotion and support from the EIS staff extended to the many EIS Bulldog families as well. Social media posts flooded with pleas from families to reconsider or demand answers from administration. With such a great amount of support, some may wonder what caused one Principal to have such loyalty from staff, scholars and the community.

Scott stated that she had one main goal when entering EIS: prove that students are capable beyond measures to succeed, with the right guidance, support and service. 

“I set out to prove that under the right service, students are capable and we [the EIS staff] are here to serve them,” stated Scott. 

She stated that she would not accept anyone saying that poverty is a reason that scholars can’t succeed. She pointed out that she was raised in poverty, but that did not stop her from succeeding… and it is that belief system that she worked to instill in her scholars. She stated that adults that she felt safe with helped her to thrive, and she felt it her duty to return that favor. 

One of the biggest services that meant a lot to Scott was building relationships with scholars. Scott would walk the EIS building daily and greet her hundreds of scholars by name. She looked at her scholars as her many children who she wanted (and still wants) to grow into the best versions of themselves. The idea of connecting with scholars is a principle that she held in high regard for her staff as well. 

“Leaders can’t expect that students are going to just perform for you. They need you to relate to them,” stated Scott. 

She also stated that the school’s processes and procedures weren’t about her either. All decisions were made in regard to the scholars. 

Although she made being a Principal look easy, Scott admitted that it was a tough job. Working to keep everyone’s perspective on the children and not themselves was a reoccurring value that she worked to instill. She also stated that emotionally, it was tough due to people sometimes overlooking her humanity. She compared working as a principal to working as a middle man between EIS families and the School Board. 

“[Working as Principal] is one of the most undervalued and underappreciated positions in the School District… the pressure is on you even when it’s not your responsibility,” stated Scott. 

Even with that pressure, Scott made sure to keep a positive demeanor and made sure that both her scholars and staff always felt welcomed and that she was accessible. 

She successfully diversified the EIS staff, reduced the number of scholars getting in trouble by providing and implementing effective discipline alternatives and strategies, created a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) program, and built a strong Building/Parent partnership among EIS.

Scott has extended faith toward aspiring teachers and hired many when they were only provisionally licensed. With her support, guidance and faith, many of EIS’s provisionally licensed teachers have successfully passed their Praxis test and were able to become fully-credited educators. It is that kind of faith and support towards her staff that has aided her in becoming an outstanding leader. 

Now, Scott is working to continue her legacy of assisting scholars and educators to becoming the most successful versions of themselves through her 501©3 non-profit, The Art of You. Incorporated in 2020, The Art of You is piloted in the rural, underserved segment of the Three Rivers Health District in the Northern Neck Middle Peninsula region of Virginia. The Art of You has a strategic focus in the areas of youth development, educational consulting and advocacy through the mediums of literacy, the arts and technology. Scott’s goal, through The Art of You, is to provide alternative learning opportunities to non-traditional learners, improve literacy development skills, provide transition services to young adults (Ages 18 – 24) and share the vast wealth of knowledge obtained by Scott, in her 17 years of educational experience, by providing training and educational support to families and school communities. 

Although the door has shut on her time with Essex County Public Schools, it is very clear that so many more doors will open for Doranda Scott as she works toward bettering the youth and expanding education to all.