Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
04:24 pm
18 December 2018

Person of Interest: James Presley

Photo: Fred Lopez

Principal of Sumter PREP Academy, Wildwood


Vital stats:

Born in Leesburg and reared in Wildwood.

Earned B.A. at Flagler College and master’s in education leadership from Troy University.

Married to Yolanda with two children, Shakinah and Malachi.

PREP stands for Positive Response Education Program.

How do you define “alternative education” at Sumter PREP? Alternative education is providing nontraditional instruction in a nontraditional environment to meet the needs of nontraditional students. We are allocated for 100 students, grades 3rd- 12th.

What is your PBIS (positive behavioral interventions and support) system? It’s called “Creating a positive RAAAP!” It’s built on five school-wide expectations: Be Respectful, Accountable, Attentive, Active, and Positive. It’s built on the concept that students should have an opportunity for three positive conducts to every one negative conduct weekly, and that parents should have an opportunity for three positive phone calls to one negative phone call weekly. PBIS celebrations are offered every Friday to recognize students who met the expectations for the week. Weekly PBIS phone calls are made to the parents of the students who made it to the celebration. There is a PBIS transition plan with seven expectations that all students are striving for in order to return to their zoned school.

What are your success stories? Ninety-three percent of the students who transition back to their zoned schools do not return to Sumter PREP Academy; we have a nationally and internationally recognized PBIS program; Dr. Anna Winneker, of the Florida PBIS Project and the University of South Florida, recognized our program; 35 administrators from the Netherlands visited our program on Valentine’s Day 2017; I became a PBIS mentor to schools of Sumter, Lake, Seminole, Pasco, Hernando, Indian River and Columbia, and Dade counties; and I was invited to speak at the BER (Bureau of Education & Research) Conference at Orlando and the Stay Woke Conference at Philadelphia.

What are your future plans? We are in the process of implementing a community investment program called “training and trades.” We have a commitment with T&D Concrete, Galaxy Home Solutions, Carpet Depot & More, and Cuttin Up Barber Shop to train and hire students of Sumter PREP Academy to work for their businesses. Career Source will also offer paid summer internships to students who work for the companies in the summer.

Your best and worst subjects in college? Best: business management; Worst: oral communications.

Favorite movie about school? “Lean on Me.”

Favorite meal at the school cafeteria? Pizza on Fridays.

Pet peeve: Tardiness. I do not like to be tardy or people who are consistently late.

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