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Gant excited for first day as principal at Triton Central Elementary School

After 20 years working in one of the state’s largest school districts, Heather Gant takes over in a building very similar to her earliest education days.

Gant, a North Decatur graduate, is the new principal at Triton Central Elementary School, replacing James Hough, who stepped down at the end of the school year to pursue a new career track in real estate.

“I will say, James left a phenomenal building,” said Gant, a St. Paul native. “This staff is the most dedicated I’ve seen in any place I’ve been. They love this community. They love this school. They love the kids. They really do want to be here. This isn’t really work to them. They enjoy this and a lot of that comes from the leadership they’ve had. James built that culture and I plan to continue that culture.”

Day one for Gant is Tuesday as the Triton Central and Southwestern school systems in Shelby County return to the classrooms. Shelbyville and Shelby Eastern (Morristown and Waldron) start Wednesday.

Gant arrives in Fairland after serving as the assistant principal at North Grove Elementary School in Greenwood – part of the Center Grove school district. Her parents grew up in Shelbyville and her grandparents still live in the area.

She is excited to see the kids return to what is now her building.

“My game plan is to be out and about and all around,” said Gant of her Tuesday schedule. “I want to see everything in action – the playground, the cafeteria, the classrooms, the drop-off and pick-up, the childcare. I will not wear roller skates but I could use them. I will definitely have some comfortable shoes on.”

While it’s her first principal position, Gant believes a difficult 2020-2021 school year prepared her for teaching in a pandemic and dealing with whatever crisis may arise.

“Last year, I pretty much felt like a principal,” she said. “My principal was quarantined quite a bit. I dealt with the preschool next door being on fire. I had probably 70 preschoolers in our gym because their whole building was on fire.

“So while he was out on quarantine I had a fire, confiscated eight vapes – we had a big vaping bust, and had some other (human resources) stuff. That initiation period … I’m done with that.”

 

 

The Indiana University graduate and her husband, Brian, have two daughters – Morgan, a sophomore at Center Grove High School, and Lynden, a fifth grader at Maple Grove Elementary School.

Gant does not expect any major changes for the 2021-2022 school year at Triton Central. Her goal is to keep the educational experience running smoothly.

“In administration, you come into buildings that already have systems and procedures and a way to do things,” she said. “You just kind of adapt to that and then you look at your practices and maybe refine things or make changes that could be better.”

COVID-19, though, forced administrators to take a deeper look into all protocols and procedures.

“With COVID-19, it was like starting from ground zero,” she continued. “You had to look at the way you did everything all over again. There was some excitement with that. I had never started from ground zero before.”

The idea of sanitizing stations will likely become common practice in schools. Water bottle filling stations are a new addition as well as water fountains are phased out.

“We found out things where this is the best practice and maybe we should be doing this,” said Gant.

With less than 24 hours to opening day, the Triton Central school system will not require students to wear masks in the building.

“We are going to operate as is the way we’ve set our plan up to be until we are forced to look at that,” said Gant of the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country. “I could see it happening but I really think that would be a last resort.”

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