CHEROKEE — Tiffani Fuqua describes her new appointment as principal of Cherokee Elementary School as a dream job.
She takes the reins on June 2, succeeding Anthony Olivis, who is retiring at the end of this month after 25 years. Olivis also served a term as superintendent of Colbert County schools.
Fuqua said Olivis was her mentor as she was working on her instructional leadership certification, and continues to share insights to help her in the transition.
The school has an enrollment of 302 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
"I never expected to be a principal so early in my career, but I've had a passion for education since I was a little girl, going to my mother's classroom with her when she taught special education here," she said.
Fuqua, 39, and a 1998 Cherokee High School graduate, has taught special education at Cherokee High School, New Bethel Elementary and Colbert Heights Elementary. Since 2016 she's been at Cherokee Elementary.
She said her job took her from school to school as enrollment required.
"I was glad to have the range of experience in the different schools, but I'm loving being back home," she said. "There's something very special about being back at the school where I once walked the halls as a student."
She is also finishing her first term on the Cherokee Town Council, representing District 4. The understanding of the community she's gained as a councilwoman should coincide nicely with her new role, she said.
"Unity in the community has been my motto, and I want to see more community and parent involvement on our campus," Fuqua said. "I want the whole community to see that we're doing positive things here."
She said her experience as a special education teacher has helped her forge close communications with parents, and has required organization and attention to detail that will be required in her new position.
Superintendent Gale Satchel said Fuqua represents a good hire for Cherokee Elementary with the added advantage she's already well familiar with the school.
"We're excited to have her and her vast knowledge of the community she'll be serving," Satchel said.
"She's taking over for Olivis, who has been a true steward of his talents and has given this school system 25 of the best years of his life."