The school district recognized Gainey Tuesday morning during a breakfast at Benton Convention Center, and while she was unaware of the honor to come, more than a dozen people from EFHS knew of the recognition beforehand and were present to celebrate with their colleague. They included an assistant principal, teachers and representatives from the school’s PTA and booster club, wrote Kim Underwood in an article released through the WS/FCS marketing and communications department.
Several members of the WS/FCS Board of Education also attended Tuesday’s presentation, including Chairman Jane Goins, John Davenport, Elisabeth Motsinger, Jill Tackabery, Marilyn Parker and A.L. “Buddy” Collins.
“It’s all about all these people behind me. They are the ones that make it happen,” said Gainey as she accepted the honor.
Gainey has been the principal at EFHS since 2002, but she has been a member of the WS/FCS community since 1987.
Gainey grew up in Charlotte and always enjoyed playing sports and being a Girl Scout, detailed Underwood. It was those experiences that developed within Gainey a desire to become a health/physical education teacher, and she went to Winthrop University College in South Carolina in pursuit of that goal. She graduated in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
After college, Gainey worked as a physical education teacher at a private school in South Carolina. She decided to go back to school for her master’s degree and enrolled at Appalachian State University, where she worked as a graduate assistant in athletics. Gainey received her master’s degree in physical education in 1979.
From there, Gainey was hired to build the volleyball and basketball programs at Wofford College. She spent five years at Wofford before enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, earning her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) After that, it was on to WS/FCS where she got a job at Hanes Mill School.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to my career,” said Gainey in Underwood’s article.
Gainey said Wednesday that she spent three years at Hanes and it taught her valuable lessons that remain within her work ethic and how she deals with students today. Just as important lessons were learned at Glenn High School, where Gainey was an assistant principal for 12 years.
“As I look back, this is my 28th year in the school system. I spent three years at Hanes Middle School and it taught me how to think out of the box and that every child has a reason for not doing something. You just have to look for it, so I learned how to listen. I spent 12 years at Glenn and that’s where I developed a passion for students.”
Gainey said she was appreciative and humbled by the honor. She again credited her success to the people at East Forsyth.
“My job is to balance the ship. I have a great staff, students and teachers. I am also very appreciative of the community,” said Gainey.
During Tuesday morning’s announcement, WS/FCS Superintendent Beverly Emory gave a pre-recorded video message congratulating Gainey for the recognition and talked about the support she and others have received from the EFHS principal.
“From the beginning, she has been a true friend,” Emory said. “She always looks out for the rest of us.”
Others also spoke out about Gainey in the school system article. They included:
“She cares about the kids just as much as if they were her own.” – Farrah Hilton, EFHS Teacher of the Year
“She forms relationships with each member of this faculty, and she cares about our struggles both personal and professional. She offers support, structure, resources, guidance and advice to everyone. She is calm in the most chaotic of situations, patient and wise. She speaks from the heart to her faculty, students and community.” – Beth King, EFHS math teacher
“In all aspects, I think she is fair. She is always available. She goes the extra mile for students.” – Cindy Neugent, EFHS secretary
“She emphasizes building a family at East. She realizes that we all have families and challenges that extend beyond school. She supports us in professional endeavors as well, such as applying for grants and awards.” – Julie Riggins, EFHS math teacher
“It is a well-deserved honor. I have learned a lot from her.” – Brad Craddock, Glenn High School Principal
“She is at everything that the school is involved in. She is a very present principal.” – Sandra Shropshire, EFHS lead secretary
Gainey was nominated for Principal of the Year by EFHS teachers Beth King, Jennifer Haymes and Julie Riggins. Every principal in the school district was eligible for nomination. There were a total of 18 nominees altogether, which was then reduced to five finalists by a selection committee.
Gainey received $500 for her and $500 for the school from Truliant Federal Credit Union, which sponsored Tuesday’s breakfast, as did Allegacy Federal Credit Union and Winston-Salem Federal Credit Union for a total of $3,000.
The 18 nominees were: Ted Burcaw, Kingswood High; Donna Cannon, Diggs-Latham Elementary; Becky Carter, Kernersville Elementary; Rusty Hall, Old Town Elementary; Robert Ash, Speas Elementary; Amber Baker, Kimberley Park Elementary; Fran Cook, Early College of Forsyth; Sara Cook, Middle Fork Elementary; Brad Craddock, Glenn High; Debra Gladstone, Mineral Springs Elementary; Mark Hairston, Ashley IB Magnet;
Donna Horton, Carter High; Judy Jones, Caleb’s Creek Elementary; Frank Martin, Reagan High; Essie McKoy, Petree Elementary; Neil Raymer, Meadowlark Elementary; and Ramona Warren, Sedge Garden Elementary.
Burcaw, Cannon, Carter and Hall were among the five finalists along with Gainey.
As the local Principal of the Year, Gainey will be considered for state Principal of the Year.