Dr. Mendi Tucker is focused on “creating leaders for tomorrow”.
“Colleges and businesses are looking for students who can communicate effectively, collaborate well as a team, think critically and be creative,” said the new principal at Merriwether Elementary School. “If we can teach leadership skills to allow them to be effective in those four areas, they’ll be successful adults.”
When Tucker, a native of Saluda, S.C., began college, she wanted to become an X-ray technician and do ultrasounds on pregnant women.
Three months shy of graduating Midlands Technical College, she decided to change her major to education and transferred to University of South Carolina before later transferring to USC-Aiken.
“During my clinicals, I requested working with children. I realized that teaching them and helping them in that manner was where I really wanted to be,” she said of her change in career choice. “It was my calling.”
After graduating from USC-Aiken, she worked in the Saluda County School District for 15 years. She held several positions including teaching fourth grade, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten; worked with the Reading Recovery coordinator; literacy coach; and as assistant director and director of adult education.
Tucker worked as assistant principal at Gilbert Elementary in Lexington District One for four years and last school year, was the principal at Marshall Primary in Anderson District Two.
When she began as principal of Merriwether Elementary in July, it felt like home.
“When I first started getting to know everybody, the faces were very familiar,” she said. “I’d say at least half of the staff, we have some kind of prior connection via college, family or something of that sort, but we have just crossed paths before. So it made coming in and becoming a part of the Merriwether family an easy transition for me. They are a very welcoming group of individuals—the school, district, parents, community—very welcoming. They made me feel right at home.”
Her goals this school year are to establish and build relationships within the school and in the community; maintain the school’s academic excellence and look for ways to improve; and “observing, listening and being open to where we are and where the stakeholders want to go for the future”, she said.
“I’ve got to take the time this year to get to know what is and what is not effective,” she said. “My ultimate goal for our school is to have a vision directly in alignment with the district…that we are preparing our children in the right way for the future.”
Tucker is excited about being a part of the Edgefield County School District and Merriwether community and building relationships, she said.
“I’m looking forward to being a lifelong partner and member of the community,” she said.
In her free time, Tucker is very involved in her church, Saluda Baptist Church, with ministries, Sunday school and missions. She and her family also participate in Relay for life.
Her hobbies include reading and crochet and cheering for the Clemson tigers.