By Wakisha Bailey

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Call it a lesson in adaptability. A small group of Philadelphia principals share a common bond after going through an unprecedented time.  

Tameron Dancy, Megan Wapner, Torrence Rothmiller, and Amanda Jones all run elementary schools within the Philadelphia School District and share a love for their students and staff. But they have more in common than you think.   

Group Of Philadelphia Principals Bonded While Leading Students, Staff Throughout Pandemic

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“I have about 97 staff members in my building, 65 which are teachers, I run a K-8,” Jones, the principal at Luis Munoz Elementary School, said.  

“We call ourselves the pandemic principals,” Jones said. 

This group with about a handful of others started their principalship in 2019. 

“We all came in during the pandemic,” Rothmiller, the principal at Andrew Hamilton Elementary, said. 

Wakisha Bailey: What was that like?  

Rothmiller: Unique. 

With no blueprint to follow, many lessons were self taught 

“A question about ordering like ordering supplies,” Wapner, the principal of James Rhodes Elementary School, said. 

“We collectively were going into a new situation, trying to learn our staff through little boxes on the screen,” Rothmiller said.  

Every year the district holds an annual in person meeting to welcome new principles, but due to the pandemic, it was virtual. Wapner says they had to lean on their colleagues and technology.  

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“So someone there said, ‘Text me your number,’” Wapner said. 

“Like OK, this is getting to be too much. Let’s go over to the app,” Dancy, the principal of Robert Morris Elementary School, said. 

And that’s what they did for months. Zoom meetings and group text messages –  that’s what got them through. 

“We kind of had to stick together and figure it out how to support our students and our teachers,” Jones said.  

When Covid-19 shut down schools in March of 2020, principals top concerns were safety, attendance, funding, learning challenges and boosting mental health. But they had to do all this with less resources.  

“Everybody had to quickly get more patience and more flexibility and we did that,” Dancy said.  

With schools reopened, Dancy spends recess balling out with her students.  

Group Of Philadelphia Principals Bonded While Leading Students, Staff Throughout Pandemic

Instead of high fives, Jones gives a fist bump 

“All of the hardships, all of everything we went through during the pandemic, this is what we did it for ,” Wapner said.  

“We’ll be known as those guys forever. We are the ones that came in and learned to navigate all of the systems virtually,” she added.

WB: So no other principal can get in this club? 

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Wapner: No, I’m sorry. They are not going to be a first-year pandemic principle?

Wakisha Bailey