The bulk of the changes this year comes at the elementary school level, where nine schools will have new principals. In addition, eight high schools, five middle schools and two centers will have new principals.
DeKalb School Superintendent Dr. Crawford Lewis said the leadership changes are extensive this year because the school system was on the hunt for “proven leadership with documented record of leadership.”
For the first time, Lewis said that all principals and administrators were evaluated and ranked from A to D. He said changes were made in the leadership at schools that had too many administrators with the same rankings.
“Some schools had all ‘C’ people,” he said. “No wonder the schools weren’t performing. We can’t continue to do this.”
Lewis said wholesale changes were made to the schools’ leadership.
“We’ve taken and made stronger the administrative teams,” he said. “Every principal now have stronger support staff.”
Lewis said that good support is important for principals, who will now be held accountable, not only for how their students perform, but also for how they look.
“In all my years in DeKalb School, we have never before tied principals’ evaluation to how their students look,” said Lewis, who started with the school system 31 years ago as a teacher. “We are now saying to principals, take more responsibilities for how your students look. You can’t see something that is wrong and let it go. You are going to pay attention to this.”
Assistants move up
At Browns Mill, Woodridge Elementary, and Sequoyah Middle, and Druid Hills High schools, assistant principals have risen to the top positions at their schools.
Alyshia Smith, Brown’s Middle Elementary new principal, was assistant principal of instruction before her promotion to the top job at her school.
Smith, who has been an educator for 12 years, began her career with the school system as a teacher at the former Leslie J. Steele Elementary School. There, she served as grade level chair and in 2001 was the school’s Teacher of the Year. She went on that year to nab the systemwide Elementary School Teacher of the Year. She replaces Dr. Yvonne Butler, who had been principal at Brown’s Mill for 11 years.
Butler’s new assignment with the school system has not yet been announced. She is celebrated nationally as the “sugar-free” principal after establishing Browns Mill Elementary as the nation’s first sugar-free school in 1999 in an effort to fight growing obesity and improve academic performance at the Lithonia School.
Devora Lockett-Spear, who has been an educator for 16 years, rises to the top spot at Woodridge Elementary in Stone Mountain, where she was assistant principal for eight years.
She has also been a paraprofessional, substitute, and a physical education teacher.
She replaces Angelique Conner, who moves in Chapel Hill Elementary as assistant principal.
After a decade in education, Brittany Cunningham who joined the DeKalb School System in 2006 as a mathematics and social studies teacher at Sequoyah Middle School, is now that school’s principal. She was assistant principal for two years at Doraville school before taking the top job. She replaces Trenton Arnold, who moves to Stone Mountain Middle School as principal.
At Druid Hills High School in Atlanta, Mindee Adamson is the new principal after serving as assistant principal of instruction for three years at the school. Adamson, who has been an educator for 23 years, began her DeKalb career 18 years ago. Over the years, she also taught at Cedar Grove, Cross Keys and Redan high schools. She replaces Everett Patrick, who moves to ML King High as principal.
In other moves, Drs. Angela Strozier, A. Clifton Myles, Audrey Brooks, Daniel McGurie, Reginald Stephens and Brian Scott Heptinstall have been promoted to principal from assistant principals.
Strozier, a 20-year educator, is the new principal at Allgood Elementary in Stone Mountain. She was most recently assistant principal at Flat Shoals Elementary.
Myles, who has 15 years in education, rises to principal at Atherton Elementary School. Prior to his promotion to principal, he was the school system’s coordinator of professional learning. He has worked in the school system as a high school teacher of language arts, reading, and theater at Ronald E. McNair, Sr. High School and was assistant principal at DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts and Leslie J. Steele Elementary School.
Brooks, who takes over as principal at Edward L. Bouie, Sr. Traditional Elementary School, has more than 20 years as educator. She was most recently assistant principal at Robert Shaw Traditional Theme and Knollwood Elementary schools. She has also been an elementary and middle school counselor and an elementary math and science teacher.
After a decade of teaching, Daniel McGuire is the new principal at Evansdale Elementary School in Doraville after serving the last five years as assistant principal of instruction at Kingsley Charter Elementary School. He began his career with DeKalb Schools as a sixth grade language arts teacher at Stephenson Middle School in Stone Mountain.
Reginald Stephens is the new principal at Woodward Elementary School in Atlanta. Immediately before his promotion, he was assistant principal at Shadow Rock Elementary. Stephens, who has been in education for 17 years, also taught first and EIP reading and math at Panola Way Elementary and served as Title 1 SES coordinator with the Office of School Improvement and the API planning group with the Department of Elementary Education.
Heptinstall takes over as principal at Peachtree Middle School in Atlanta after serving as assistant principal at Chamblee Charter High School. He joined DeKalb Schools in 1997 as a social studies teacher at Stephenson High School. He replaces Steve Donahue who has taken an other position with the school system.
Principals swapping chairs at different schools this year include Dr. Euna McGruder, Joe Reed, Millicent McDuffie, Triscilla Weaver, Angela Moton, Douglas Sanders, and Kenn Baker.
McGruder moves to Robert Shaw Traditional Theme Elementary School in Scottdale from Jolly Elementary School. The 18-year educator began her career with DeKalb Schools in 2002 as an instructional coach at Peachtree Middle School before moving to Clarkston High School as assistant principal of instruction and curriculum. She is former banker who discovered her love for teaching while volunteering at local schools and school-based community service projects.
She replaces Millicent McDuffie, who moves to Panola Way Elementary as principal, where she replaced Yolanda Beavers. Beavers moves to Tucker Middle School as the assistant principal.
Reed moves to Lakeside High School in Atlanta from Sagamore Hills Elementary School. He began his career in DeKalb at Oakcliff Elementary School. He also taught at Dresden and Kittredge while coaching cross country and boys track at Lakeside High. He was also assistant principal at Shadow Rock Elementary and Lakeside High.
He replaces Angela Moton, who moves Lithonia High as principal, succeeding Kerry Stroud, who moves to Cedar Grove Middle School as assistan principal.
Principal Kenn Baker moves to Towers High School from ML King, Jr. High. He is replaced at King by Everett Patrick.
Triscilla Weaver replaces Terry McMullen at Bethune Middle School. McMullen moves to Southwest DeKalb High School as assistant principal.
More new principals
In other movements, Angela Bethea, Drs. Sharon Riley Ordu and Morcease Beasley and Thaddeus Dixon have new positions as principals.
Bethea is the new principal at Southwest DeKalb High School, moving to the top job at her alma mater from area coordinator for the school system’s Region III.
Bethea, a 1989 graduate of the Decatur school, came up through the ranks from student teacher, substitute teacher, paraprofessional, cheerleading coach and English teacher at Stone Mountain and Southwest DeKalb high schools. She was also an assistant principal of attendance, discipline and instruction/testing.
Bethea replaces John Prince, who moves to Chamblee High School as the assistant principal.
Ordu is the new principal at DeKalb Early College Academy in Stone Mountain. She is new to DeKalb Schools but not new to education. The 15-year educator has extensive experience as an associate professor of education leadership at Argosy University and has served as a central office administrator, principal, instructional specialist, consultant, teacher and adjunct professor with Atlanta Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools and numerous colleges and universities.
Ordu succeeds Brenda Emerson, who resigned.
Beasley takes over as principal at Columbia High School. He is on his second stint with DeKalb Schools, returning from the Port Arthur, Texas, School District, where he was deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction and school leadership for the last three years.
Prior to that, he was principal at Stephenson High School from 2002 to 2006.
Beasley replaces Douglas Sanders who moves to Lithonia High School as assistant principal.
Dixon, who has 30 years in education, will be the new principal at Miller Grove Middle in Lithonia. He was most recently area coordinator for the school system’s Region III. Before that, Dixon was assistant principal at Henderson Middle School. He also served as lead special education teacher at Chamblee Middle School, lead teacher of special education at Miller Grove Middle and assistant principal at Chamblee Middle School. He replaces Triscilla Weaver who moves to Bethune Middle School as principal.