CALHOUN, GA – After 30 years with Gordon County Schools, W.L. Swain Elementary Principal Dr. Elizabeth Anderson is set to retire at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.
Dr. Anderson made the decision to pursue a career in public education with the ambition of intentionally making a difference in the lives of the students, families, and schools she served. Through her years of service and leadership, Dr. Anderson has led a purpose-driven career, setting high standards of achievement for herself and those around her.
“I remember coming home for Christmas break and telling my friends I had decided to become a teacher. One immediately said, ‘Elizabeth you are wasting all your potential.’ In true form, those words were like a challenge. In that moment, I thought I will show you,” said Dr. Elizabeth Anderson. “I set out to be the very best teacher I could be and reject the notion that ‘those who can, do; and those that can’t, teach.’ With every group of students, each school, or challenge, I approached with the attitude of being the best and making it the best.”
Shortly after completing the first of her four degrees in 1992, Dr. Anderson started her journey with Gordon County Schools as an Exceptional Student Services Teacher at Ashworth Middle School. Throughout the course of her career, Dr. Anderson has served in multiple roles including positions as a Lead Exceptional Student Services Teacher, Assistant Principal of two elementary schools, and Principal of two elementary schools.
“After 16 years in the classroom, I asked myself ‘could I make an even bigger impact in the lives of students as an administrator? Could leaving the classroom make a difference,” Dr. Anderson stated when reflecting on her decision to pursue educational leadership. “It has never been about a title or position but making a difference in the lives in the community you serve.”
Dr. Anderson believes that teachers who are interested in going into leadership should go in knowing that parents and families send their students to school with blind faith and trust in you as an administrator. Knowing that you are entrusted with the student’s education, safety, and with the faith of their family members, make sure that each decision made is done so with the best interest of every student.
When faced with opportunities or difficult situations, Dr. Anderson said she would make decisions after reflecting on them from multiple viewpoints. “How would I feel about this decision as a parent, teacher or even as a student?”
We asked what advice she would give to someone interested in joining the teaching profession or someone just starting out in their career. She would tell both parties that regardless of the negativity they may face they should; remember that they make a difference, learn to take joy in the achievements both big and small, and find joy in being included as part of the journey.
Colleagues across the Gordon County Schools community speak highly of Dr. Anderson’s ability to make a difference in those around her, be a role model to staff and others in leadership, and build meaningful relationships with students, families, and the community she serves.
During the February Gordon County Schools leadership meeting, Sonoraville Elementary School Principal Amy Beason said, “Elizabeth, you have made such a difference and it has been an honor to work with you and to call you a friend. You will be so missed.”
Upon reflection of her career, Dr. Anderson told us, “When I arrived at Swain, I remember reciting this adage to my teachers, ‘we cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.’ I hope in my 30 years in education as the wind has been blowing, that I have adjusted my sails to make the biggest difference in the lives of our children.”
Dr. Anderson is looking forward to the opportunity to redefine her new purpose. While she reflects on what is next in this new season of life, she is looking forward to spending time hiking, gardening, sewing, and traveling.
About Gordon County Schools
Gordon County Schools system serves around 6,500 students in schools across the county including six elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. The mission of the Gordon County School system is to build a collaborative culture that engages all students and staff in learning experiences leading to growth, empowerment, and transformation.