Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lafayette High School moves forward under new leadership

Daniel Miani is the new principal at Lafayette High School. (WYDaily/Courtesy WJCC)
Daniel Miani is the new principal at Lafayette High School. (WYDaily/Courtesy WJCC)

Lafayette High School will see more than one change in leadership for the coming school year.

The school’s previous principal, Kimberly Holleman, submitted her resignation in May for reasons that remain unclear.

In April the Williamsburg-James City County School District contacted the James City County Police Department to report an employee allegedly using the school-issued credit card for personal purchases, said police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.

Since then, Williams said there is no update to the report and it is still under investigation.

RELATED STORY: Questions remain surrounding the resignation of Lafayette High School principal — and officials decline to elaborate

During Holleman’s leave, Daniel Miani, the division’s secondary math coordinator, filled in as interim principal.

On Wednesday, Olwen Herron, superintendent for the district, sent an email to families to let them know that Miani would be the acting principal for the coming school year.

In addition, the school is bringing on Darrell Pankratz as the new assistant principal to work with the current assistant principal, Michele Newcomb.

Pankratz will start on July 1.

With those changes in leadership, Miani said it gives the school the opportunity to have fresh eyes look at the school and bring in their past experiences to make improvements.

Miani, who had been the assistant principal at the school for the 2016-2017 school year before moving to the district position, said he plans to continue with school programs that provide unique experiences to students in order to create overall success, both academically and socio-emotionally.

“For people to evolve as humans, building leadership capacity in people is really the root of helping people develop their goals and grow,” he said.

This is his third year with the district and he said he has already developed relationships with a lot of the students at the school. Being a principal, he said there has to be a balance between letting students feel comfortable with him but also reminds them of their purpose at school.

“I don’t think of it as being an enforcer, but more of a model of how to interact on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s critical as an adult to model for students your expectations.”

Moving forward, Miani said he plans to build a greater environment of safety at the school and the first step is by making students feel comfortable in their lives at school so they know they are heard and respected.

“We are making sure those doors of the school are open to them and that they can walk through to find support,” he said.

Lafayette High School is unique in terms of equity compared to the other two high schools in the district. According to data from The Village Initiative, an organization developed to promote unity and equality in Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, the school has a larger economically disadvantaged student population.

RELATED STORY: Students across WJCC don’t have the same resources. Here’s why

“The Village Initiative’s on-going efforts as tutors, mentors and volunteers at WJCC has underscored what the research has repeatedly demonstrated,” said Jackie Williams, president for the Village, in a news release on May 3. “That minority students are more likely to thrive when they have access to teachers and school mentors who look like them and who are proficient in culturally competent pedagogical and mentorship strategies.”

Miani said creating equity will begin with personalized relations. In the next school year he said Lafayette will have a new lead counselor and an additional counselor which he will work to find ways to create greater equity and access for students at the school.

“Equity is a tricky thing,” he said. “It doesn’t mean equal, but providing what everyone needs to move forward in every part of their life. The school is already doing great things and we need to continue to get that out to the community. We want, as educators, to show students those opportunities and help them realize anything is possible.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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