Although he’s now Troup High School principal, Dennis “Chip” Medders still has his “Coach Medders” name plate on his desk.
The longtime high school football coach said being principal is similar to being a coach, only with wider influence. Medders also taught special education before becoming principal of Manchester High School, the position he held the past five years, and now has overseen his first month of classes as principal of THS.
“It’s amazing how my attitude and focus have changed over the years,” Medders said. “When I became a principal, I didn’t realize how much of an impact I could have over all other aspects of the school.”
Medders said his biggest strength is relationship building with the staff and school. With Troup High at more than twice the student population of Manchester High, though, Medders admitted it isn’t easy.
“It’s more of a challenge here because of the sheer size,” Medders said, noting Manchester High had about 520 students compared to Troup’s 1,298. “… But I’m making ground every day in that area, and not just in school, but the community in general.”
Medders is only a 15-minute drive to THS, though said he goes through only one less traffic light than to Manchester High School. He said his time in Meriwether County has given him some different perspectives to bring to Troup County.
“I felt like I could bring some things to Troup High School, and that Troup High and the Troup County School System could bring me some things,”Medders said. “I learned a lot things, a lot of ways of thinking that are different, and brought some things with me to try to make mesh, and I think we’re doing a good job.”
Medders wants to focus on the school improvement plan and increase the rigor on day-to-day instruction and testing in response to more critical state assessments. He also wants to facilitate more involvement with parents through better communication from the school.
At the beginning of the school year, Medders implemented a new motto, “nulli decundus,” or “second to none,” which he said students and staff have rallied behind.
The amount of students that participate in extracurricular activities also has impressed Medders. The longtime coach has enjoyed going out to watch the various teams play and practice after school.
The opportunities students have at Troup High School also impressed Medders when he first arrived.
“The CTAE (career, technical, agricultural education) vocational classes, which I think is one of foundations of Troup High School, and it’s vocational programs are impressive,” he said. “When I walked down the halls, I could not believe the amount of things and what students can get involved in related to post-secondary schools.”
For Medders, being principal is about being out among the students and working with them like the football coach that unknowingly inspired him as a student to become an educator. Although he initially saw himself more as coach than principal, he’s found the job is a good fit.
“I find it more enjoyable now, in fact I probably enjoy it now more than I ever did,” he said. ” … I go to school every day just looking into the future.”