Meet high school Principal Margo Bruce

By Ruthann Carr, Correspondent

It wasn’t a young Margo Bruce’s dream to go into education.

No, she wanted to be an accountant.

Armed with a degree in business and accounting she was on that path with a job at LexisNexis.

When a friend told Bruce she was teaching and spoke so glowingly about it, Bruce was intrigued.

She heard Fluvanna needed a middle school math teacher, so she applied.

Years ago, Bruce began teaching math and alternative education classes.

Margo Bruce

She was hooked.

When former Principal James Barlow retired in May, the county School Board offered Bruce the job of high school principal where she worked for years as assistant principal.

Speaking from behind the desk in her new office, Bruce couldn’t contain her enthusiasm for her new job. She not only wanted to continue making a positive difference in the lives of all students, but especially those having the hardest time.

“It’s not about me. I’m here for them,” Bruce said. “I tell my teachers, ‘Look in their faces. Ask them how they’re doing.’ We have to always try to make it positive for others; build a relationship with students and families. I always want to know, ‘How can I make you feel good about yourself? To help you help yourself – to better yourself.’”

Bruce said it was Barlow who challenged her to work with at-risk male students at the high school. Together with the then-school resource officer Von Hill, Bruce mentored 25 young men who weren’t able to pass the Standards of Learning tests.

The self-titled “Complicated Country Boys” met regularly to talk, learn and become responsible for themselves and others in the group.

Bruce said all graduated and moved on to either college or a job.

“It’s important to understand who I am and why I am,” Bruce said. “Everybody has a story. I can’t fix home, but I want [students] to feel like this is a second home – a respite.”

Moving into her new role, Bruce is excited and grounded.

“The responsibility is huge. The biggest difference is I’m the one making the final decision. Before, I could pass the buck,” she said, laughing. “But I will learn from mistakes. I’ll pick myself up and dust myself off and start over.”

Bruce refers to being on “my listening tour. I’m trying to figure out the needs.”

She plans to hold a back-to-school pep rally Aug. 4 and is thinking of adding a new-student orientation. The first five days of school she’ll also hold class meetings to learn what their ideas and needs are.

“I want people to be heard,” she said.

Other ideas she has are to hold job and college fairs and bring Piedmont Virginia Community College workforce development classes to the high school to benefit not only students but parents and the community.

“I’ve learned when you’re excited, others get excited,” Bruce said. “These are all our kids. I want children to feel a part of [our community]. I want them to think, ‘How do I fit into this puzzle and what can I do with my talents and skills? What do I need to learn and do?’”

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