Mabe: ‘I’m loving every minute of it’

Cordova principal sees ‘people first’

Editor’s note: October is National Principals Month. The Pee Dee Post will publish profiles on each of the county’s 16 school principals as submitted by Richmond County Schools during the month.
* Jamie Greene
* Yvonne Gilmer

By Mallory Brown
Special to The Pee Dee Post

For Cordova School Principal Ellen Mabe, it’s all about the students.

When asked about her experience over the last 15 months as a new principal, she answered without hesitation.

“I’m loving every minute of it.”

The second-year principal grew up in Corning, N.Y., and attended college at St. Bonaventure University in Alleghany County. Prior to that, her jobs in high school — including working as a camp counselor, among others— helped her to gain leadership skills she would need in the future.

Ellen Mabe

Ellen Mabe

“That was when I realized working with kids was fun,” she said.

So in 1995, when her sister moved to Durham, Mabe followed her in search of teaching jobs that weren’t available in New York at the time. She landed in Scotland County — only a couple of hours away from her sister.

“I worked for eight years in Scotland County as a second grade teacher,” Mabe said. “I ran their after-school program as an administrator, so I decided to go back to school to get my master’s degree. My principal at that time told me to change to a Master of Administration — that it would open the door for me.”

Mabe later relocated to Richmond County and served in different capacities at Fairview Heights Elementary, Hamlet Middle School, L.J. Bell Elementary and finally Cordova.

Though her move to Cordova School would come with a new set of experiences, Mabe said she was up for the change.

“I’ve had to learn a lot about EC law and carrying out all of the aspects of the Exceptional Childrens program,” she said. “But I’ve always believed in seeing people first, before disabilities.”

This year, Mabe said, the school is working to improve communication with students.

“We figured out that communication is one of our biggest problems,” she said, “and we’re trying to find different ways to communicate — to see how we communicate with the students and how they communicate with us, even if they’re nonverbal.”

Take a walk through Cordova School on any given day, though, and it’s easy to see what kind of atmosphere Mabe has created. Smiles abound as students make their way through the hall, and Mabe is sure to speak to them individually as they pass.

“(EC students) have learning challenges like anybody else,” she said. “Everybody has a challenge in their life, and I see children first, so I think that’s what has helped me.”

Mabe currently lives in Rockingham with her husband, Kevin, the assistant director at the bus garage, and her son, Wil. But be prepared — a glance at the photos on her office bookshelf just might warrant a conversation about Walker, Texas Ranger, because of Mabe’s three dogs — Walker, Trivette and C.D.

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