Education vet says Highlands principal gig may be her last

Before joining Highlands this year, Marilyn Webb was principal at Dorothy Moody education, which Shawnee Mission closed at the end of the last school year.

Marilyn Webb may be new to Highlands Elementary this year, but she is not a newcomer to the Shawnee Mission schools or to the job of principal.

Webb has been an elementary principal in the Shawnee Mission District since 1991 and has taught in the district since 1976. She comes to Highlands from Dorothy Moody, a school that the district closed at the end of last year. She also has been a principal at Rushton and Carpenter schools.

A native of Kansas City, Kan., where she presently lives, Webb taught one year in the KCK system before she married and moved to St. Louis for five years. Now widowed, she has one son who is a dentist in the U.S. Navy.

The hardest part of taking on a new school is not knowing the families and students, she says, but she finds Highlands to be “a great school” with “wonderful” kids. “I am somewhat laid back, although I can be a stickler,” she says of her management style. “It is my job to teach. Even when you are in trouble, you are to learn from that situation.”

She says her goal is to build positive relationships with everyone she encounters. Managing time is critical in order to have more time with teachers and students, which means pushing the paper work back to after school. The principal’s job carries a bigger work load than 20 years ago, she says, describing the 400 emails waiting for her when the office opened this summer.

But the biggest change is the financial pressure. Thankfully, she says, teachers still have the materials they need and class size is still “in the realm of good teaching.”

While Webb says Highlands is likely the final stop in her education career, she has no plans to retire. Webb replaced Jennifer Spencer, Highlands’ long-time principal who took a job in the Blue Valley district. Highlands has 297 students starting this year and still has empty classrooms following the expansion into the new building. It has the unique distinction of being home to students from three northeast Johnson County cities: Prairie Village, Fairway and Mission.

Webb has a bachelor’s in education from the University of Missouri at Columbia, a master’s in teaching from Webster University and a master’s in education administration from Emporia State.