Pelham High School Principal


Photo by Emily Sparacino

Amanda Wilbanks has grown accustomed to workdays without structure. As Pelham High School’s principal, she knows flexibility is paramount. Wilbanks, 39, grew up on a pine tree and black angus cattle farm in Kellyton. She holds multiple degrees and is working on a doctorate in educational leadership at Samford University. Her husband, Michael, is a gifted specialist at Thompson Middle. Amanda has a stepdaughter, Taylor, and two cats, Sam and Eli. She’s a member of Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Alabaster and loves to read about U.S. history, travel to historical sites in the U.S. and Europe and watch British mysteries.

What was life like when you first became a school administrator?

It was difficult. My life as a teacher was fairly structured, but life as an administrator is all about change from day to day. You can never predict what the day might bring. Variety keeps the job interesting, but that aspect made it hard to adjust at first.

What’s something important you’ve learned working in education?

There is so much potential in every student. It is very important for teachers and administrators to help students maximize their abilities. With its wide range of academies, extracurricular activities and advanced classes, Pelham does a phenomenal job at helping students explore their interests.

As the PHS principal, what are your goals this year?

We saw good improvements in students’ standardized math and reading scores this year. That was largely due to our teachers’ commitment to analyzing our data and making the necessary adjustments in their curriculum to help grow students. We will continue that process this year and hopefully see continued success. We also want to continue improving our students’ college and career readiness as defined by improved ACT scores, qualifying AP scores, college credit, benchmark scores on ACT WorkKeys, industry credentials and military enlistment.

Outside normal school day hours, what does your job entail?

A major responsibility is attending extracurricular events. I make it a point to attend several, if not all, events for every team and organization we have at PHS. This means a lot of evenings at football, soccer, choir, band and so on, but that is the best part of my job. I believe good administrators spend much of the school day walking around the school interacting with students, visiting classrooms and monitoring the operations of the building.

What would you say to someone just starting out in administration?

Your professors in graduate school say administration is all about communication and they are so correct. The majority of a principal’s day is spent talking to teachers, students, colleagues, parents and community members. Learn to really listen to others and hone your problem solving skills. Both will serve you well. Also, always remain flexible. If you cannot adapt and think on your feet, this job won’t appeal to you.