Assistant principal of the year overcame barriers

Assistant principal of the year overcame barriers

Growing up an extreme introvert didn’t stop Joy Warren Antone, ’97, ’00, ’02, from following her dreams of becoming an educational leader. She’s been in the field 23 years, currently as assistant principal for eighth grade at Samuel M. Inman Middle School. She was named Assistant Principal of the Year with Atlanta Public Schools in October.

“I will say that growing up, I always dreamed of becoming a teacher,” she said. 

Photo credit: Jarvis Merritt, Jarvis Merritt Photography. Joy Warren Antone, assistant principal, eighth grade, Samuel M. Inman Middle School
Photo credit: Jarvis Merritt, Jarvis Merritt Photography. Joy Warren Antone, assistant principal, eighth grade, Samuel M. Inman Middle School

Being an educator came naturally to Antone, who comes from a long line of educators. Her mother, father, grandfather and grandmother were teachers. In addition, one aunt and two uncles were principals. They taught her the value of being an educational leader.

Georgia College played a significant role in helping Antone gain confidence, learn how to collaborate with others and become a leader.

“I sharpened my abilities through dealing with other students in group projects and leadership courses,” she said. “My professors helped me acquire confidence and people-building skills.”

Every day, Antone puts her leadership skills to the test. She frequently collaborates with principals, district level administrators, teachers, students and community members. 

Antone appreciates how her professors respected students as upcoming educators and leaders and stressed how students could gain respect as professionals.  

Joy Warren Antone works with a student in class.
Joy Warren Antone works with a student in class.
“It’s all about how you’re viewed in the public eye,” she said. “I remember my professors talked about being professional, even down to how you dress. So, when you walk into the classroom, you should act and dress like a leader. This has carried me through the tough times as a leader, because you will encounter challenges that can break you down. You just need to remain professional and maintain your integrity. It will help you with a lot of thorns as it has for me. I think that that goes a long way.”

A recent staff survey indicated her biggest quality was her professionalism, which she attributes to her education. 

When Antone attended Georgia College, Dr. Charles Love, a former school principal, taught her what it meant to be placed in challenging situations.  

“Dr. Love shared that sometimes you're placed in certain situations where they want you to come in and clean things up,” she said. “He presented how we would get through those types of situations. Just having shared that type of wisdom and knowledge was extremely valuable. So, when I became a teacher, I applied his practices in my classroom.”

During the course of her career, Antone has reached out to seek Love’s advice.  
“I love being able to work with a student and get down to the core of what's really bothering them,” Antone said. “I try to help them remove obstacles or get them help as much as possible. I just love to see those students turn themselves around. I advise them to begin believing in themselves and make better choices.”


When she took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—a personality inventory—she scored high in intuitive thinking and goal setting. Antone discovered she’s a collaborative leader. That’s why she seeks input from others, making continual adjustments to ensure her students are successful.

“I’ve always sent out surveys to my staff for feedback on my own performance, so I can better support them,” Antone said. “We're also looking at best practices by visiting other schools that are performing well like ours.”

In addition, she meets regularly with aspiring leaders in the school to create, activate and review instructional practices and initiatives.  

“We review each initiative to determine: where we work, if we need to get started, if we’re moving too slow with it, if we need to do some additional work to get things on track, and then we monitor them and discuss the next steps and success rates," Antone said. “As a team, we design a plan.”  

She cares about her students and keeps each one in mind when evaluating them and teachers.

“We're making decisions about how we move forward with each student,” Antone said. ”I also do a walkthrough of the teachers’ classrooms and provide feedback to teachers for improvement of instructional practices. Then, we arrange conferences so that we can talk about those things they were doing well and opportunities for growth.” 

She meets with new teachers to underscore the influence they have on children and the importance of choosing their words carefully. 

“What we say and do can make or break a child—they’ll remember that forever, all the way to adulthood,” Antone said. 

Joy Warren Antone (center) is honored as Assistant Principal of the Year for Atlanta Public Schools.
Joy Warren Antone (center) is honored as Assistant Principal of the Year for Atlanta Public Schools.
Her team also teaches social-emotional learning, so students learn how to navigate through problems and get along with other students. This prepares them for life. Student ambassadors pay forward what they’ve learned, as positive guides for others.

Although Antone has many high performing students, there are those who struggle, as well. Proper structures are in place for each student at every level.

“I ask those students who struggle what they plan to do in the future and what's blocking them from being successful?” she said. “And, I always tell them, ‘It’s not about these four walls here. This is about your life.’”

Antone’s biggest challenge is when her middle school students struggle with reading and writing. She tries to identify and remove barriers and help students with disciplinary problems. 

“I love being able to work with a student and get down to the core of what's really bothering them,” Antone said. “I try to help them remove obstacles or get them help as much as possible. I just love to see those students turn themselves around. I advise them to begin believing in themselves and make better choices.”

She feels there's always an opportunity to motivate those who don't perform well and to guide those who do move even closer towards their goals. 

“My greatest joy is working with students and building that relationship with them,” Antone said. “They know when you care and that matters when you strive to push them towards being their best.”