HUNTERSVILLE – After 15 years with Huntersville Elementary School, Principal Deborah Mangieri is hanging up her grade book.

Mangieri says 2014 is the year to leave. Her husband already retired, and she feels it is time to join him and move forward. Her plans include resting and traveling.

At Huntersville Elementary, Mangieri spent her days coaching teachers and mentoring other principals, all while promoting her students’ growth with newly implemented programs. The only aspects of her job she won’t miss are being understaffed and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tasks.

Huntersville Elementary’s high test scores are also in part attributable to Mangieri. Her staff is no matter of luck. The school is very picky when rummaging through hundreds of applicants to find the one most suitable for the position. The school also pulls a lot of data every year to focus on students’ problem areas.

Tests scores reflect this work as Huntersville Elementary has been deemed a National Blue Ribbon School, a mark of excellence in education awarded by the government.

Huntersville Elementary has also received national and state awards for student achievement as well as high growth and performance.

A handful of Mangieri’s assistant principals have, over the years, become principals due to her guidance. She says they are trained in all aspects of the job.

Assistant Principal Stephanie Ennis has worked with Mangieri for 13 years. She aspires to one day become a principal, too.

She says Mangieri encompasses a true leader who follows through on goals, meets deadlines and sets high expectations for behavior and academics.

Ennis sees Huntersville Elementary as a huge family. The teachers and assistants strive to maximize their time working with the students.

Ennis says the students love Mangieri. Recently at a goodbye luncheon, the children wrote poems and skits that they filmed and showed to her.

Ennis had a third- and fifth-grader attend Huntersville Elementary this year. She can see them becoming independent and responsible from Mangieri’s emphasis on work ethic.

Many of the Huntersville Elementary teachers are nationally board certified, which entails 12 to 18 months of study resembling that of a master’s degree and featuring intensive training. Many of them have gone on to win awards for excellence.

The inspiration that brought Mangieri to her profession came when she met a bad principal – a nice guy but not a good leader.

Starting out as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, then a reading specialist, Mangieri worked her way up to principal. A career that she kept as she bounced from New Orleans and Forth Worth, Texas, to North Carolina. 

Leaving Huntersville Elementary, Mangieri cherishes memories of the children saying funny things and of interactions among pupils. She struck connections with all 800 students as she greeted them every morning and dismissed them every afternoon.

Mangieri leaves knowing that she knew most of her students, and most of them knew her.