message-from-the-principal
Mrs. Arielle Hammond, 
RPA Principal
Mrs. Arielle Hammond, RPA Principal
Dear RPA Community,

I am excited to work in such an impactful position at Rockwood Preparatory Academy. Over the past few years, I have reveled in the progress of staff and students from humble beginnings in a furniture store to an expansive multi-unit facility. I approach my work with students and staff with passion, honesty, grit, compassion, and high expectations. Educating the children of Rockwood is a huge responsibility that I wear as a badge of honor. Previously, I’ve worked as a classroom teacher and special education teacher grades K-6 on the Big Island of Hawaii as a Teach for America corps member.

I’m from Baltimore, Maryland. I fell in love with education very early in life, thanks to the privilege of having a mother who is-- and has always been--committed to my achievement. School was my happy place, nestled within-yet somehow removed from-the violence and crime occurring in the community. Teachers made all the difference in my life, and I truly believe that a teacher can change a child’s life because it happened to me. I attended Amherst College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts. I received my Masters of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. I am currently participating in an administrative leadership certification program through Harvard Graduate School of Education. I love being a student and see a doctoral program in my near future.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing the violin, taking pictures of my cat, cooking, and hiking with my husband and American Bulldog. I love to read self-improvement books, comics, and educational studies. I (try my best to) live by the words of Dr. Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”.

My Approach

I believe that by providing students with access to experiences and opportunities to further their education combined with opportunities to advocate for themselves, school can become a tool students use to uplift and empower themselves and their community. The role of educators is to prepare students to leave the classroom more prepared to thrive in the outside world; more affirmed in their identity, more determined to reach their goals. There are three approaches in particular I’ve encountered over the years that have made this possible for the students I’ve served: Direct Instruction, Restorative Justice, and culturally responsive teaching. As Principal of RPA, I aim to continuously bring the aforementioned programs to all of our students, while continually fine tuning our programs for best outcomes.

For these programs to be effective at RPA, implementation must be research-based to include best practices. Successful implementation will require thoughtful professional development including opportunities for administrators and teachers to connect with peers who have experienced success in their implementation. I continuously plan time throughout the school year for teachers and administration to participate in professional learning communities to build expertise within the school and further the culture of collaboration.

I love working with students, yet my favorite aspect of being a Principal is supporting teachers and cultivating their professional growth. Teachers have the most important, yet underappreciated, job in modern American society. I recognize this paradox and work diligently to provide teachers with support, appreciation, resources, and most importantly LOVE. RPA has the best teaching staff I have ever encountered. Our staff is humble, smart, and hungry, the three characteristics of an ideal team player (read The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni for context). I aim to lead by example, rooting my interactions with the RPA community in hunger for student success, humility towards everyone, and intelligence (especially emotional intelligence).

Affirming Diverse Students

I am deeply passionate and highly aware of the benefits of implementing culturally responsive teaching methods, and have been asked to train educators on this subject at several Teach for America summits. I was selected for these opportunities as a result of extensive personal and professional research into critical pedagogy, the perverseness of the achievement gap, and the need for students to learn about their identities and their history in school. This work is integral to students at Rockwood.

There is a saying that “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”, and by teaching students the history of their community and their cultural group, I can encourage students to create a better future for themselves. I do believe that multicultural perspectives need to be actively sought out and incorporated by educators because the current landscape of instructional resources leave much to be desired. If educators aren’t supplementing instruction with culturally responsive resources, the pedagogy being perpetuated in the learning environment will be apathetic at best, or oppressive at worst. My long-term goal is to provide educators at RPA with the tools to do this work in their classrooms in all grades K-6.