MACON - Dr. Julia Daniely is the principal of Westside High School and is a finalist for the Principal of the Year award. This is not her first time being a finalist -- she was also in 2016.
She starts her days early getting up at 5:30 a.m., and at work, she is always working whether it is behind her desk or walking the hallways of Westside.
Daniely explained that teaching was not the first thing she wanted to do, "I didn't want to initially. My main goal was to be the first female manager of the Piggly Wiggly," said Daniely. While working, though, she met an educator who told her about an event and she knew she wanted to work with high school students since that is who she worked with at Piggly Wiggly
"So when I reached the pinnacle of whatever I'm going to reach, I really wanted to work at the high school level to be a principal. I wanted to be a principal," Daniely said.
Once she arrived at Westside, the school was not in the best shape and she said she knew she had to take on a non-traditional approach.
"I had to come in as a warrior, and we have come a long way," said Daniely.
During her six years at Westside, she said hope has always been a core value, and her students praise the warm environment she has created. Westside Evan Engelauf spoke about how everybody can depend on her.
"If we need her, we can just text her, like, 'Hey.' No matter where we are at, even if we're not at school, she will find somebody to help us," Engelauf said.
Daniely said being a Macon native gives her a greater connection with students inside and out of the classroom.
"I believe in the whole child. We can't do what we need to do from 7 to 3 if we're not invested in the whole child," she said.
So now as a candidate for Principal of the Year, Daniely says she is going in using Westside's motto, "Make it happen."
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