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New Neal Elementary principal eager to start the school year

By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
For new W.S. Neal Elementary principal John Knott, the countdown is on.
Teachers will officially return to school this week and students will be back on August 9. Knott is at least as excited as an eager young student.
Returning students will find a few surprises, including new programs and new technology.
First, Neal Elementary will implement school-wide the Accelerated Math program, which it piloted in some classrooms last year. Similar to the Accelerated Reader programs already in place in most elementary schools, the math program is designed to support the current math curriculum. The program is data-driven and has been proven to increase math scores. It also fits with the No Child Left Behind Act.
The PTO earns high praise from the new principal.
Knott, who has served as technology coordinator for Neal for the past four years, said one of his first orders of business was to create a computer lab. Each classroom has several computers, but this will be the first year in which a teacher has an option of taking a class to a lab and having each student at a computer at the same time.
Escambia County Schools Superintendent Buck Powell was very supportive of this project, Knott said.
Knott said he wants parents to feel welcome and appreciated.
Education is Knott's second career, and one he's found very rewarding.
Knott owned a successful mobile home business when he decided to make a career change. He had earned an associate's degree from Jefferson Davis Community College, and went to Troy State University to complete his bachelor's and master's degrees. He joined Neal Elementary as a teacher in 1995.
The greatest joy in education, he said, is watching students grow.
When he's not at school, Knott enjoys fishing and especially deep sea fishing. He's also been the voice of the Golden Eagles at Neal High School for the past 10 years. His wife of almost 30 years, Margaret, is a teacher at Neal Elementary.
The Knotts are active members of the First Baptist Church of East Brewton.