The Howler

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Meet the administration

While Bazzell has been leading WHS for the past 4 years, many of the admin here are new this year. Find out how to stay on their good sides.

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Malik Bazzell


Q:  What are some educational opportunities that have come along, in your public education career?

A:  [I come from] a family of educators. My mom was a preschool teacher. My aunt was a college admissions counselor. My uncle worked for the University of Texas, and both of my maternal grandparents were college professors. [Similarly], my sister is a teacher too. [Growing up], I lived in an impoverished community, so education is of the utmost importance. [I am] a product of the power of education and where it can take you. I started my career as a teacher in Wake County, at Fuquay Varina High School, and later became an assistant principal intern there. I was hired on at Sanderson High School for six years. The current superintendent was my principal at the time, Cathy Moore. She was very influential in developing me as a leader. [Afterwards], I secured a job in Washington, D.C, as a principal, because [I wanted] to go to a tough school system and make a change. [I worked at] Anacostia High School, one of the roughest high schools in DC, where I improved the graduation and attendance rates tremendously. [Eventually], I wanted to come back to North Carolina to be with family, and I became the principal at my alma-mater, East Wake School of Integrated Technology, which had the lowest performance rate in Wake County at the time. [After that], I landed the job at Wakefield High School, as principal.

Q:  When going into this position, as principal, what were important quality traits to have, in your opinion?

A:  Leadership requires common sense, good judgment, and expertise in educational theory.

Q:  What would students never guess about you?

A:  [I’ve met] FLOTUS, Michelle Obama [while working at a school in Washington, D.C.] I play PUBG, [PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a multiplayer battle royale game] and Madden in my free time.

Q:  In your opinion, what would make a student receive infractions or disciplinary issues?

A:  I want everyone to be successful. [I don’t] want anybody to ruin the [academic] environment for others. Do not hinder someone else from learning. Everyone should have an opportunity to learn in school.

Q:  What advice would you offer students, regarding their high school career?

A:  Set long-term and short-term goals for yourself. By setting short-term goals, for myself, it helped me achieve my long-term goal of becoming principal at a comprehensive high school. Goals help guide people. Quoting Jesse Jackson, “If you can believe it then you can achieve it.”  

Q:  What is one of the best moments as an administrator/leader in the public school system or Wakefield?

A:  Graduation is one of the best moments because seeing a student cross the stage, regardless of what their experience with us was like, it does not matter what their grades were or if their discipline was exemplary. Seeing that they were able to open doors and create opportunities, allows me to stay energized for the next year.


Jessica Chambliss

JESSICA CHAMBLISS, Administrative Intern

Q: What makes you the best person to be an admin at Wakefield high school?

A: The fact that I know the students so I know what sets them off and what doesn’t and how to speak to them.

Q: What would students never guess about you?

A: That I am big into hip-hop music. Okay right now it’s the Migos, I know every single word to every single song they have, but my ultimate is J Cole.

Q: What advice would you offer students?

A: I typically work with freshman so what I would tell them is to make sure that they are on their A game in the beginning because that sets your GPA tone for the whole three years of the rest of the time they’re here.

Q: What has been your best moment as an admin?

A: I do like going to the games. I like seeing kids in a different light rather than just teaching. So I like going to the games and being in the student section rather than just chilling on the sidelines somewhere, it’s a different kind of experience so far that’s the best. But I’m waiting for basketball season where I can sit in air conditioning and cheer for you all on the inside.


Ryan Cummings

WILLIAM CUMMINGS, Administrative Intern

Q:  How do you think students can maximize their four years here?

A:  Take advantage of every opportunity you find. Don’t be afraid to fail. Take responsibility.

Q:  Did your school push you to be successful?

A:  Initially I wanted to be in sports medicine when I was in high school, but they didn’t have any sports medicine classes. I think if those opportunities were available to me, it would help guide me to what I truly wanted.

Q:  Do you feel like kids at Wakefield are getting fully prepared for the SATs?

A:  If you are tending to you studies here, you should be prepared to take the ACT. I would say it’s important for students to use the results from the ACT and pre-ACT to gauge how well they will do in college. As soon as you walk through the doors of high school, the clock starts. Your GPA isn’t going to jump from a 2.0 to a 4.0 in a matter of a semester, so put your time in, because in the long run, it’s going to pay off. 

Q:  How have your past experiences brought you here today?

A:  Always seek to learn and keep an open mind. Whatever it may be.

Q:  What are some major things you wish you knew before you went to college?

A:  I wish I had a better understanding of money, especially for students ready to go off on their own.

Q:  Is there anything else you would like to give insight on?

A:  Live life to the fullest, be smart, and don’t have regrets.


Michelle Gordon

MICHELLE GORDON, Assistant Principal

Q: If you aren’t at school, what are you up to?

A: I have a new puppy. I love yoga; I do hot yoga a lot. My mother is retired and I’m really close with my family so I’m usually making sure she’s good. My father lives in Virginia so I go home a lot on the weekends. I try to go to the mountains sometimes. I try to go to the beach, mostly I try to relax. I try to be as balanced as possible.

Q: What group did you fit into in high school?

A: I don’t really think I was in a group. I don’t really think I was popular. I had one or two friends in every group. I went to a very diverse high school in Hampton Virginia. There were a lot of different types of students, so I tried to make sure I had somebody in each group.

Q: How have your past experiences brought you here?

A: My passion has always been high school dropout prevention. My father dropped out of school in the eighth grade, not by his choice. Everything has kind of led up to this. I think the field chose me before I chose it. I never really think about titles, I just think about what the work does.  If this happens to be called the assistant principal, I’m cool with that.

Q: What’s the fastest way for a student to get on your bad side?

A: I think just disrespect. I know that’s very subjective, but I do try and give someone an opportunity to respond. Hopefully, students are respectful and they can just talk to me and be honest. I guess for me it’s not being honest and owning it and just being respectful because we all mess up.

Q: What impact do you hope to make on Wakefield?

A: Really just to create a peaceful environment with acceptance, compassion, empathy and mindfulness.


ELIZABETH HANNA, Assistant Principal

Q:  What inspired you to become an administrator?

A:  For me, it’s who inspired me to become an administrator, which would be my chemistry teacher. He held me to a higher level of accountability and saw potential in me that I did not see in myself. He showed me that there is a path in pursuing education beyond high school. While pursuing education beyond high school, I realized that what I wanted was to give back what my teacher gave to me back to other children.

Q:  What makes you the best person for the job as an administrator?

A:  I think the whole admin team is the best for the job but my piece is passion. I am extremely passionate about the job, about kids and about education. I think it’s the equalizer in our country and the opportunity provider. For me, it’s that every day is a new day and is a chance to change someone’s life.

Q:  What impact do you help to make at Wakefield?

A:  My greatest hope for Wakefield is that I inspire kids to do more and better. When I leave here, I hope that people look back and say Mrs. Hanna helped me with this or I learned this or was able to do this with my life.

Q:  What advice would you offer students?

A:  The big advice that I would offer students is to know that everything that you do here has an impact on the next step but it doesn’t define who you are and your next step. Every class that you take has an impact, but if you fail chemistry, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a chemist. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, it just means you didn’t do well in one particular class. So for me, the piece of advice is every class counts, but it doesn’t define you and don’t let it define you. There’s so much learning in failure and the older you get the more you will realize that the things you failed at are really where you grew as an individual.  You don’t grow with success. Every failure pieces you into a better person.

Q:  Best moment as an administrator?

A:  I think as administrator, you see kids graduate and know that you had a hand in it. That’s to me what it’s all about.


Curtis Harris

CURTIS HARRIS, Assistant Principal

Q: What makes you the best person for the job of admin at Wakefield High School?

A: At the end of the day, I appreciate the community. I think this is actually a really great place to be. I’m proud to be able to work here with this community. And I think what I bring to the table is a hard work ethic. I think I’m a person that sticks with problems and continues, until we find a resolution, just doesn’t give up.

Q: How have your past experiences brought you here?

A: All of our experiences do culminate–our jobs, our relationships. So, I would just say everyone I’ve ever met and every experience I have been in has prepared me for being in a leadership position, to understand people, students, or being able to see things out of the eyes of my own kids.

Q: What would students never guess about you?

A: I played college baseball for a few years. I played for a year and transferred to another school in my hometown where I continued to play baseball. I was an English teacher before I was an assistant principal.

Q: What’s the fastest way for a student to get on your bad side?

A: Not trying. I think at the end of the day we’re here to make mistakes, we’re here to be put out of our comfort zones and a mistake is really just learning.

Q: What inspired you to become an administrator?

A: Somewhere along the line, someone was like “Hey man he’s doing great in the classroom, we think he needs to become a principal.” One of my principals at Mary Phillips thought that idea, so he pulled me out of the classroom to be an instructional coach being that I had the other masters. It allowed me to do that and teach other teachers, but while I did that I also now went to North Carolina Central University, where I got my second masters in school administration.

Q: When you are not at school, what do you do?

A: I like to play basketball every once in a while. I like to be outside. I take the kids to ball games. We do like to travel. I like non-fiction the most. I prefer to read about historical occurrences.

Q: What crowd did you fit in during your time in high school?

A: I think I’ve always been a man of the people. Essentially I think, obviously being an athlete, I’ve had close friends, but I can honestly say I moved around the lunchroom a lot.  Sometimes I would hang out with the athletes. I’ve always been a mover, so I don’t like to be in one place. I believe everyone has something to offer, I was always curious about other groups.


Beth Keefer

BETH KEEFER, Assistant Principal

Q:  What impact do you hope to have on students?

A:  I want to create conditions in which they can learn and be successful, but I also want to help create an environment that draws them into the school and makes them feel like a part of the Wakefield community.

Q:  What are your goals for this year?

A:  My goal for myself is to learn Wakefield and the Wakefield way and to make sure that before I make suggestions on how to improve things that I actually understand what’s going on here.

Q:  How can we maximize our four years here as students?

A:  Get involved. Find things to do in the school, make connections. Try everything that’s positive. Go for a club, sit with someone that’s sitting by themselves at lunch, make new friends, don’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities outside of school.

Q:  What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  Having an impact on a larger group of students. One of the things that drew me into this role was that I could not just help 180 students that I taught each year, I could help lots and lots of students by working with a greater number of teachers and students.

Q:  What was your funniest experience with a student?

A:  Finding a student who got all of my Sandlot jokes in class.

Q:  What is your favorite type of music?

A:  I’m gonna go reggae.

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