Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary School on Santa Barbara Boulevard, N., has a new principal this new school year. His name is James Wesley Moreland, but likes to be known as "Wes" Moreland.
His chief personal philosophy on education?
"Kids come first," he said. "They deserve a welcoming and comfortable environment to learn in."
Moreland comes to Cape Coral after six years as assistant principal at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts. A mentor for him is Academy Principal Dr. Douglas Santini.
"I learned so much from him," he said.
"Wes was a fantastic assistant principal and he will do a great job at Hector A. Cafferata Jr.," said Santini. "He's got everything, really, and when you look at it, it is everything for the kids. That will carry him a long way."
Moreland didn't start his career aspirations in college in education. Rather, he earned a bachelors of science degree first at the College of William & Mary, "the best college in the country", he said.
"After I finished, I got involved in the pet industry and visited the schools, and because of an interest in schools, I enrolled for my masters in education leadership at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.," he said. "When doing my masters, the biggest thing I was drawn to and learned about was impacting students' lives."
He calls his new position a wonderful opportunity.
"It is a wonderful school, and I have a great group of students and a wonderful and supportive staff," he said.
The staff made him feel welcome from the first day he arrived pre-school session to prepare.
"There were several different things," he said. "The first day I was here the staff had a surprise breakfast for me. Since then I have received a lot of cards of welcome and a lot of well wishes."
He said he is looking forward to both academic programs and school events.
"We're working very hard with Accelerated Reader, which is basically a reading program that allows students to read at their level and then build their reading scores through practice," he said. "The other project that works hand-in-hand with FCAT is Math Wizard. This is a program that allows students to practice grade-level appropriate problems throughout the school day. It is done individually in classrooms and done daily on our daily news."
There's a fall festival, Oct. 26, for students. They have a variety of fun activities planned, including bringing a helicopter in from Lee County Mosquito Control, something the children always enjoy.
"We always do a quarterly recognition program called School's Cool, recognizing students doing well in the classroom and academically," he said.
Moreland is "the product of a military family" and "grew up all over the place." He was born in Charleston, S.C.
He is married with three children who attend the Academy for the Arts. His wife, Jill, works there in Parent Involvement. When he does have spare time (which he admits of late is little), he said, "What I like to do is all water sports. I kayak and fish. My favorite spot is to kayak in the mangroves in Matlacha."