Maria Manzola said teaching children to "live in excellence" will be one of her goals as principal of Rose Hill Elementary School.

Maria Manzola said teaching children to "live in excellence" will be one of her goals as principal of Rose Hill Elementary School.

She was attracted to the position because of the Reynoldsburg school district's reputation for excellence, she said.

"I wanted to be in a place where people matter and children matter," she said.

Manzola's first day at Rose Hill was March 18. She was greeted with a breakfast hosted by staff members and spent the day going from classroom to classroom to get to know students and teachers.

"I want to watch teachers teach and students learn," she said. "Students should realize they have choices with their academics, but being in school is a privilege and a choice they should make."

Manzola earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana University, which is also where she earned her master's degree in education.

Before coming to Reynoldsburg, she had 10 years classroom experience as a teacher, then served as both principal and assistant principal at schools in Indianapolis.

She was assistant principal in that district's largest elementary school, which had an enrollment of about 800 students.

Rose Hill has a student population of nearly 400 students.

Even though she enjoys teaching, Manzola said she always knew she wanted to become a principal because principals can make a big difference in the lives of children.

"I had a fabulous principal -- Dr. Z -- and I wanted to be like her," she said.

"I want to show children they can be active participants in their education and I want them to learn that it is their responsibility to go on to middle school, then high school and college, to learn to be good scholars and good citizens," she said.

She said Rose Hill students can learn how to "help Reynoldsburg become a better place."

"I want students to feel safe in school and to always be respectful," she said.

Manzola said she wants to get to know her students' parents and help to foster a partnership among teachers, administrators, parents and children.

"It really does take a village to raise a child," she said.

Manzola said she was pleased with the welcoming atmosphere at Rose Hill.

"The staff has been very welcoming and the children are lovely," she said.

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education approved Manzola's hiring March 2. She will be paid an annual base salary of $85,000, plus benefits that will bring her compensation package to $117,259 annually, according to Bryan Buoni, the district's human resources manager.