As assistant principal at Pearsontown Year-Round Elementary School in Durham, Andrea Underwood Petifer, ’14, M.Ed., understands the importance of education and the role educators play in young lives.
“Growing up in southeast Raleigh, I had a number of Black educators in my family, schools, and church communities who took an interest in not only my upbringing, but in me as an individual,” said Petifer. “They gave so much to me, it was only natural for me to want to give back and inspire students.”
Because of those mentors, Petifer chose a career in education. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in school administration, she enrolled at Meredith to earn her Master of Education in academically and intellectually gifted (AIG).
Prior to her current role, she worked as an AIG facilitator, a second grade teacher, a daycare teacher, a camp counselor, and a school volunteer. She currently serves as president of the Durham Association of Educators and is an adjunct professor in the School of Education at North Carolina Central University.
“What I like best about the work I do is the fulfillment of having a purpose-driven life,” said Petifer.
As assistant principal, no day is the same for Petifer. She is rarely in her office as she believes strongly in being in the classroom. If she is in her office, she is conducting a lunch bunch or having a book club with students. Such initiatives have helped her build strong relationships with her students and parents.
“No matter what comes my way, you will always find me in classrooms observing lessons and asking students questions,” said Petifer. “One cannot lead a school from the confines of their office.”
Petifer strives to be a role model for her students and hopes she is making a difference. In 2018, she was named Assistant Principal of the Year by Durham Public Schools.
“Having the opportunity to represent my school and district was a blessing. Durham has amazing APs (aspiring principals), and I just happen to be one of the many,” said Petifer.
As a wife and mother of three girls, if you had asked Petifer a year ago where she would like to be in five years, she would have said a principal, assistant superintendent, or superintendent. Now, her plans have changed.
“I aspire to become a principal, children’s book author, assistant professor, and to begin an educational nonprofit … and maybe run for school board.