Striving for positivity: Meet Pine Trail Elementary's new principal, Charles Bynum

Charles Bynum is embarking on his ninth year as a principal — and his first at Pine Trail Elementary.

Charles Bynum has been in education for 32 years. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
Charles Bynum has been in education for 32 years. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
  • Ormond Beach Observer
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Charles Bynum said being a school principal is "the best job ever."

This school year marks his ninth as a principal and his first year at the helm of Pine Trail Elementary. He was formerly the principal at Orange City Elementary, and he's coming to Ormond Beach with a total of 32 years of working in education.

Bynum said he'll always think fondly of his years at Orange City, his first principalship.

"I got a lot of the pats on the back that you don't get all the time, in a very condensed amount of time," he said. "It was a little overwhelming to feel that. I hope I can build that same community here, because that's a good feeling."

The Ormond Beach Observer recently spoke with Bynum about his excitement for school and love of education.

What's your favorite thing about being a principal?

I get to see every part of school — the beginning, the middle, the end, every day. It's not always the same thing every day, and it's exciting. It's rewarding, and I think it's probably the best job I've ever had.

How did you get into education?

My parents are both educators, and they seemed pretty cool when I was growing up and I wanted to be a coach. 

I didn't want to be anything else. I always wanted to be a teacher.

I wanted to coach a team, like baseball ... because it had been so good to me throughout high school and through baseball. 

I ended up coaching baseball at DeLand High School and at Spruce Creek for a little while — for a couple years. It was fun.

What position did you play?

I was a pitcher. Not great (laughs). I did OK. 

What motivates you?

I really want to have a positive impact on the people that I come in contact with. 

I think people search for the meaning of life all the time, whether it's having more money or having a job or a big office or something like that. But over the years, I've come to realize that having a positive impact on somebody is much better than that. That's more beneficial to me. 

I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. I've found no more enjoyment in life than being able to help somebody else.

Do you have any short- or long-term goals for Pine Trail Elementary? 

This school has a long-standing status in this county as being a high-performing school. I want to maintain that. I'm not here to change a system that's working.

There's a couple things I'm excited about: I'm excited about meeting the parents and the students, but I'm also excited to see the people here work — watch them work in the classrooms and see how they interact and teach the curriculum here, because I'm fascinated by that. I'm actually fascinated by learning how kids learn and how human beings learn.

We know what the first day of school typically looks like from the student perspective. What do they look like from your perspective?

The same — high level of excitement, anxieties, scared, nervous, extremely hot outside. It's always hot in August. 

You want to have fun with it. You enjoy it. That's why people do this, is to have fun with it and start building those relationships with the families and the teachers here, and the staff and this community.

There's almost 700 kids that go to school here. It's about 1,400 parents, to put it in that context. There's a lot of moving parts here. There's almost 100 people that work here. It's a small little city, and it's a lot of fun. 

Any words you live by?

Act with knowledge, while doubting what you know. 

Where does that come from?

I don't know, I stole it from somebody. It's a quote — it keeps me humble. (Editor's note: The quote comes from Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton's 2006 book "Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management.")

I don't know everything, even after this many years. I don't pretend to know everything. What I don't know, I'll pick up the phone and call somebody and find out, and we'll try to work through it.


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