By Keysha Drexel
Amanda Hood isn’t wasting any time diving into her duties as the new principal at Mountain Brook High School.
Just eight days after the Mountain Brook Board of Education approved Superintendent Dickey Barlow’s recommendation to appoint Hood as the new principal at Mountain Brook High School in July, the 36-year-old was having lunch with the school’s custodial staff and gearing up for a new school year at a familiar place.
Hood replaces Vic Wilson, who took a job in early July as Hartselle city schools superintendent.
Hood served as principal at Mountain Brook Junior High during the 2012-2013 school year, but her connections to the school community run deeper than that.
Hood worked at the high school as the assistant of curriculum and instruction during the 2011-2012 school year and said being back on campus is a bit of a homecoming for her.
“That’s what I love about this school and this school system–there’s a sense of connectedness there, and it really is like a family,” she said.
And getting reacquainted with the school family is Hood’s top priority as she gets ready for the new school year, which starts on Aug. 19.
“Right now, it’s about reconnecting with the faculty and staff and parents and students,” she said. “Building those relationships is a huge priority for me.”
Hood said it’s important that everyone in the school community thinks of themselves as a team as education continues to change.
“It takes a village to make it work,” she said. “It takes our teachers, parents, our secretaries and custodians and lunchroom staff and everyone to build a place where anyone can come in and feel like they can grow every day.”
That teamwork is even more important now, Hood said, because the approach to educating students is changing.
“It used to be that education was more corporate–you had a teacher standing in front of the class lecturing. That’s shifting now.” she said.
The approach to education is moving to one that is more focused on individual learning styles, Hood said.
“We’re learning that what’s right for one child might not be right for the next student. We’re transitioning to a learning environment that looks at the needs of different people,” she said.
That shift means educators have to be vested in really knowing and understanding their students.
“As educators, it is so important that we understand our students and know what their goals are and what they need to reach those goals,” she said.
As principal, Hood said her main job is the same as that of everyone at the school.
“Our job is to do everything we can to build programs that give our students access to the tools they will need to be successful,” she said.
A native of Selma, Hood graduated from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa and earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy State University.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I used to play school all the time growing up, and I never really considered doing anything else,” she said.
Her first teaching job was at Oak Mountain High School, where she taught math. After earning a master’s degree at the University of Montevallo, Hood worked as the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Spain Park High School in Hoover.
“While I was at Spain Park, I went back to Montevallo and got my educational specialist degree and then started working at Mountain Brook High School,” she said.
Hood said she feels blessed to work in the Mountain Brook school system.
“You can’t isolate just one thing that makes this a great school system,” she said. “We have great leadership, and they challenge themselves to stay on the cutting edge of education. We have unbelievable parent and community support, and our teachers are on the frontlines of all the good things happening in our schools.”
Hood said she hopes to continue to work with everyone in the school community to look forward and to make sure students are prepared for the future.
“We all have to dream big because we can’t predict what the world is going to look like in 10 years. We have to make sure our students are ready for what’s next,” she said.
Hood and her husband, Jerry, have four children ranging in age from 8 to 14. The family lives in Inverness.