Lakeside High School’s hallways and classrooms will soon be filled with students and faculty returning from summer break, and new principal Damian Bounds will be there to welcome and guide them.
“I want to make sure Lakeside is a place where everyone feels welcome,” Bounds said. “I want to establish a collaborative environment where teachers, students and parents feel supported.”
That philosophy may resonate with a school that saw their previous principal, Jason Clyne, let go last year over allegations of inappropriate conduct.
However, Bounds is not going to live in the shadow of the school’s past leadership and said he wants to turn Lakeside into a world-class school that others look to as an example.
“History is history; the past is the past,” he said. “We have to move forward and have the shared goal of making all students successful.”
Even just days after arriving, Bounds said he has felt embraced by the supportive community at the school. The Pennsylvania native and father of four said of all the places he has worked, the people of DeKalb have stood out to him as an especially tight-knit community.
Though he is a first time principal, Bounds brings with him experience working in higher education at Georgia State University and for the past six years has served in an administrative capacity, including as assistant principal, in both Cobb and Fulton counties.
Prior to that, not long after relocating to Georgia to escape the cold northern winters, he worked as a teacher in DeKalb at Druid Hills High School. It was there he discovered he was a high school person at heart, he said.
“[Bounds] is highly regarded as a leader who encourages a strong, positive school culture with a laser focus on classroom instruction and learning,” Superintendent Stephen Green said.
Though he enjoyed his time as a teacher, especially seeing the light come on in students when they had a breakthrough, Bounds said his desire to impact the total school led him to administration.
He said having worked at different levels within the education system is important for a leader. Working on the middle school level, he was able to see what those students needed to be academically and emotionally successful in high school, and similarly what high schoolers needed to be successful in college.
Bounds said his door will always be open to anyone.
“The best ability is availability,” he said. “Everyone has a voice and I want everyone to feel they can express their thoughts.”
In addition to Bounds, five other new principals will be joining schools around the county. They include Joan Ray at Fernbank Elementary School; John Martin at Chamblee Middle School; Melanie Pearch at Kingsley Elementary School; Ennis Harvey at Martin Luther King Jr. High School; and Julie Brown at John R. Lewis Elementary School.
Woodward Elementary School is still looking to fill a permanent principal position, with interim Principal Demetria Haddock onboard until then.
According to Green, the new principals were selected using the county’s new selection process, which included a leadership attributes survey by school stakeholders, a panel interview, a focus group and an interview with the superintendent.