Redistricting has resulted in most of the students at Heritage Middle School being new to the building this year.

Redistricting has resulted in most of the students at Heritage Middle School being new to the building this year.

Having a new principal will not be as tough on the new population as it might have been on the former population, after they had already established a relationship with their building leader.

Joyce Brickley, a former assistant principal at Davidson High School and the new principal at Heritage, said they will be learning together.

Everything will be new for her too since she will be working in a building that feeds into different high schools.

In a way she thinks it is a good time to move into the middle school since the opening of Bradley High School will offer an extra level of change across the building with the shuffle in staff as well as students.

"The first day is always exciting with a high level of energy, but I think they are going to feel a little anxiety until they learn their way around," she said of the incoming students.

This summer, Brickley and her team have worked to get the schedule ready learn the new transportation routes and connect with high school teachers.

"It is a different place," she said of Heritage, "but the whole buzz is the same."

They are still doing last-minute furniture moves as teachers prepare their rooms.

"All of the major stuff is up and ready to go," said Brickley.

Sports teams are already using the building while special development occurs.

"I don't know if nervous is the right word, but maybe I'm anxious," she said. "We spend so much time prepping and looking at data and tweaking schedules, let's get school started already. Let's get the one-shot deals over with like open house and orientation. I like it when it comes together as a symphony."

The seventh grade students and students new to the building will not be alone in feeling like the new kid in school, according to Brickley. She said she is the new kid too.

Brickley said she could not have accomplished all she has this summer without her assistant Barry Bay, who has been at Heritage for the last five years, the office staff and the guidance staff.

Bay has helped to get her adjusted and acclimated in the new building.

For 12 years, Brickley said, she has worked on the other side of the district, becoming familiar with the families not only at Davidson but at its feeder schools.

Now it is a matter of learning how to be the principal rather than the assistant and meeting a new staff. The families making up the building are new to her as well.

If she had taken a position at Weaver, Brickley said, she might recognize the younger siblings of some of her former high school students.

"It totally switched feeder systems," she said. "It has me starting at square one."

She also has to keep reminding herself that she is working with a younger age group.

"I was doing a student video this summer and calling some of them at home and asking them to come in on Wednesday to work on the video," she said. "They would say, 'Let me ask my mom if it's okay.'"

Brickley was accustomed to her former students saying "I can't, I have sports practice" or "I can't, I have to work," but hearing "Let me see if I can get a ride" was unsettling.

"Kids are kids," she said, as she thinks about the relationships she will develop in the next year. "I think I have a good rapport with kids regardless of their age. I just have to remember that they have different needs socially and academically. Relating to kids won't be a problem, but there is that whole other dynamic, they are in between independence and dependence."

One big advantage for Brickley is knowing what the middle school students can expect as they move onto high school, academically and socially.

"I know where the train is going to go when it leaves the station," she said.

She is hoping the students will quickly come to know her and learn that she is passionate about her job and people while being a country music fan, enjoying sports of all kinds and loving dogs.

"I like to have fun and joke around, but not at the expense of getting things down," she said. "I can lay the hammer down if have to."

At the same time, she is eager to learn what makes her students tick.

"Certainly I will miss Davidson," she said. "I know all of the kids there, my comfort zone is there, but I'm ready for a new challenge. Davidson will always have a special place in my heart and I will miss the people for sure."