Edmondson practically bounces with energy. He has a smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial—a credit to his father, a retired dentist—and says that as a youngster he dreamed of a career in politics. When he started to think about going into education, he told his mother, an elementary teacher, that he wasn’t sure he could deal with both the limited salary and the “lack of respect” he saw for men in teaching. He now makes a point of telling his male students that teachers and particularly principals don’t do badly—a point driven home by the silver Corvette in his parking spot.
About a third of Scarlett’s students are African American. Edmondson is a “role model to black boys at the school,” says Debbie Harris, whose own son is biracial. Edmondson came of age after the civil rights era, but he took to heart both his grandparents’ and his parents’ stories. He reports that his father, who grew up in segregated South Carolina, is to this day “not comfortable” around white people. “Never in his wildest imagination,” says Edmondson, “did he imagine his son would be principal in an integrated school.”
Edmondson graduated from the University of Virginia and received his doctorate from Eastern. He was a teacher and principal in suburban Detroit schools before coming to Ann Arbor as principal at King Elementary. He was there just a year when then-superintendent George Fornero told him his services were needed at Scarlett. Retired school administrator Bob Galardi says that principals had come and gone quickly at Scarlett and that the middle school needed the discipline Edmondson brought.