High Point University has more than 300 proud alumni who are working as teachers or administrators in local schools. Each day, they extend the excellence that HPU instilled in them to thousands of future leaders in the Piedmont Triad.
One is Susan Bunch, principal of Mount Airy Middle School (MAMS). Under Bunch’s guidance, MAMS was recently named as one of two middle schools in North Carolina to make the national “Schools To Watch®” list, designating it as one of the best middle schools in the country.
Schools on the list are judged by four main categories – academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structures/supports. The list also takes innovation into account, and Bunch has instituted several new programs to encourage excellence in her students, including SWAG (Students With Ambitious Goals) time. The program sets aside time at the end of each day for students to take part in academic clubs. This past year, MAMS also started the 1:1 Chromebook initiative, which gives students access to their own laptops.
“I am constantly telling our students that they amaze me more and more every day,” says Bunch. “They are polite, kind and dedicated to succeed in every way. In addition to achieving academic success, our students have completed countless community service projects, won numerous athletic conference championships and have placed first or second in overall recent state and regional academic competitions. They strive for excellence in every way possible.”
Bunch says her time at HPU prepared her to become the successful leader she is today.
“I was encouraged to think differently and question more deeply,” says Bunch. “HPU fueled my desire to do my part in making a difference, as I feel we all have that obligation. I also did a lot of collaborating on research projects and maintained an ongoing and consistent, positive interaction with my professors which was critical and very inspiring. Our group projects were also a way to practice skills involving critical thinking, decision making and problem solving.”
Since MAMS was named a “School to Watch®,” Bunch was also asked to join the principal panel for the Collegiate Middle Level Association, a professional organization for college students preparing to become middle level teachers.
“There is really nothing more fulfilling than for us to hear about the accomplishments of our graduates and the impact they have on the lives of children in our community,” says Dr. Mariann Tillery, Dean of the School of Education. “We strive to prepare our students to lead lives of significance, and Susan is certainly a great example of a graduate who has gone on to do extraordinary things as a school principal.”