Bok North Principal Eyes Smaller Things to get Big Picture
Last updated 7/13/2019 at 9:16am
New Bok North Academy Principal Donna Drisdom learned at an early age, from two teachers at Mulberry High School, a philosophy that continues to serve her well even today.
"It's looking at the smaller things to understand the larger things is how they would put it," meaning, look deeper than the surface to find the root cause, Drisdom said of the influential instructors, Carolyn Williams and Kathy Langford. "I just kind of took that with me."
Drisdom was named to her Lake Wales Charters Schools System post in May, after spending more than 30 years in teaching and administration with Polk County, the last two at McLaughlin Middle Fine Arts Academy in Lake Wales.
Born and raised in Nichols (where she still lives today), and a graduate from Mulberry High School, she started college at Polk State, advancing to receive a Bachelor's degree from Florida A & M University in English and her Masters Degree from Nova Southeastern University.
She spent 13 years classroom – five at Bartow High School and then eight in Mulberry – before she was named Dean of Students at her alma mater. She moved to Lakeland Highland Middle where she spent seven years as assistant principal for curriculum, and five more as principal. Before arriving at McLaughlin, she spent two years as principal at Kathleen High School.
Her parents, Criswell and Hester, also reinforced several important lessons as well.
"First is building relationships and treating people better than you want to be treated. I know that sounds like a cliché because everyone uses it, but I saw that as a student. My Dad and Mom instilled in us that education is your ticket to any place you want to go, how you treat people and always going that extra mile will open doors, but hard work would keep you there, she recalled. "My Dad taught us that education was past the classroom. There's always somebody that can pour something into your life, you just have to be ready to receive it.
Beyond relationships, Drisdom said that there are other traits she uses when interacting with students and staff.
"I listen with intent," she noted. "Not to respond, but just to really listen so that I can hear the heart of the person, it is in the heart that I can see who they can really be and I try to guide them toward that."