CULLMAN, Ala. – This year Trett Hardman took over as principal at the Cullman County Child Development Center, replacing Chris Chambers, who retired after more than a decade in the role.
Hardman grew up in Cullman County and said he was excited to return after he graduated from Samford University. Hardman was previously a teacher at Fairview High School before taking his first administrative role as the assistant principal at West Point High School for one year. When asked about his transition from teaching to administration, Hardman said the roles are different but equally important. “I love being in the classroom, but with administration, I’m able to lead on a little bit higher level,” he said.
He emphasized that his role as principal is not about him but about creating an environment where his staff can thrive. He said his goal is to empower his teachers, aides and staff, recognizing that they are the true experts in their classrooms. He said he believes that by fostering a safe and desirable work environment, he can enable his team to provide the best education and support for students.
Hardman’s leadership philosophy centers on a student-first, staff-always approach. He said he believes that creating a positive culture is pivotal to the success of any school and that the right culture can be felt when you walk through the doors. He emphasized that his role as principal is not about personal recognition but rather about cultivating an environment where his staff can flourish. He stated, “I know if I create a safe environment that’s desirable for people to come to work, then I know I’m doing a good job.”
Hardman’s roots in Cullman County provide him with unique insights into the community and its dynamics. His familiarity with the various communities served by the Child Development Center enables him to connect with students, parents, faculty and staff on a deeply personal level. “Being from Cullman, I know all the communities and the dynamics throughout the community,” he said. “I just feel like I can be a small part in each community across Cullman County.”
Looking to the future, Hardman emphasized the importance of celebrating growth, small or large. He shared that the focus should be on recognizing progress, as this mindset helps combat burnout and pressure.
“As long as we’re focusing on growth, whether it’s small or large, that’s how I judge my success,” he said.
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