Knox Middle co-principals: promise the "wow factor" when school starts Monday

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Monday will be the first day of school for students in the Rowan-Salisbury system but for Knox Middle School it will be more than that, it will be the first day of a new era.

"We said earlier that when the students came back we wanted to give them the wow factor," co-principal Latoya Dixon told WBTV.  "We feel that's what's going to happen on Monday, and that's very exciting."

The wow factor?  That's what these two principals are counting on…that's right, two principals at one middle school.

Michael Waiksnis and Latoya Dixon were introduced to community leaders in June.  The concept is very different, but support has been building.

"We know that our actions are going to have to speak for us and it's not going to be about what we say in a meeting but what parents and community members see when they come here," Waiksnis told WBTV.

"We're not sure that it would work for just anybody, that you could take two individuals who are good in their own right, place them together and expect them to be able to complete this model of leadership, collaboratively," Dixon added.  "We think because we already have an established sense of professional trust and a history of working together and it's something we very much enjoy, that we don't have to work to earn that, those things have already been established."

Knox has struggled on several fronts, but many say a lack of leadership has hurt.  There have been 4 principals in the last 6 years.

The new principals have the support of the local hospital, the business community, and the city even contracted with the principals to boost their salaries.

"We've had a number of folks to donate resources, time, and talent to help make our school better," Dixon added.

Volunteers have spruced up the buildings with new mulch and new paint, but these principals know the changes will have to be deeper than the surface, and they say they're committed to turning this school around.

There does seem to be genuine enthusiasm at the school now.  During a big pep rally Thursday, the Knox staff was among the most excited.

"There's just so much excitement, we have so much potential, we're just excited to get working with the students when they come back on Monday," Waiksnis told WBTV.

Parents who have spoken with WBTV over the last few weeks say they're willing to give the concept a try.