New principal welcomes students

Robert Smith
Zoe Reitan-Garrett, 6, arrives for her first day of school at Indian Camp Elementary last Thursday. She is shown here with her stepfather, Garrett Brown, and her mother, Ayron Brown. At left is Indian Camp Principal Amy Sanders, who welcomed them.

Amy Sanders had a new experience Thursday morning, as certainly as did many of her pupils.

For Sanders, the recently hired principal of Indian Camp Elementary School in Pawhuska, it was the first time she had welcomed children to school as their principal. She had been in education 15 years, and had worked as an assistant principal in Tulsa Public Schools, but Thursday morning was something new for her.

“I’m super excited to do it,” she said. Those words appeared to be her theme for the morning. As she welcomed parents and children through the front doors of Indian Camp, Sanders noticed a fidgety little boy to one side of the doorway and greeted him, too.

“You are super excited, aren’t you?” Sanders said to the youngster, giving him a smile. Then she introduced herself. “I’m Mrs. Sanders, the principal.”

It was a sunny, mild morning and the school’s internet connection was down. District technical staff were busily working to remedy that situation. Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent Beverly Moore stopped by and commented favorably as she departed. And Sanders fielded a range of questions and concerns, at one point assuring a woman that school staff would make sure a particular pupil got his medicine.

Sanders said she intends to bring an intense focus on reading and literacy to Indian Camp, which is a pre-K to second-grade school that was anticipating an enrollment of about 190. She plans to read a book live on Facebook once a week to benefit the children, and to encourage contact between their parents and the school.

“I want to use social media to reach the parents and the kids,” Sanders said. Her book readings will be recorded and posted so that anyone who misses one can view it later, she said.

Another activity intended to promote reading will be a partnership between Indian Camp and the Pawhuska High School football team, Sanders said, explaining that football players will read to kids at the elementary school.

Head football coach Matt Hennesy, who is in his first year at Pawhuska, said this is a program he implements wherever he goes.

“The little kids see it’s important to read because these guys are their heroes,” Hennesy said. The program also helps to develop a sense of connection between the children in the elementary grades and the older kids in high school, he said.

Sanders, 45, has previously worked in Tulsa and Skiatook public schools. She and her husband, Brent, live in Mannford and Brent works as a Tulsa police officer.