This summer, Stephen Hoyle will be the new principal of Southeast Bulloch High School, but he won’t be new to the school or unknown to a big subset of the students he will greet there when the school year begins.
They encountered him as their assistant principal or physical education teacher when they were younger students at Stilson Elementary School or Nevils Elementary School.
“It’s like coming home to the Southeast Bulloch family,” Hoyle said Friday.
The Bulloch County Board of Education approved Hoyle for the SEB High School principal post Thursday night on a recommendation from Superintendent Charles Wilson.
Hoyle has 25 years of experience as an educator, and has served in Bulloch County’s school system his entire career. He spent 16 years as a classroom teacher at both the elementary and high school levels and nine years as an assistant principal at Portal Middle High School, Nevils Elementary and Stilson Elementary.
He has been the assistant principal at Stilson for five years now, including at least one year when he was also assistant principal at Nevils, spending part of his time at each school. While he was a physical education teacher at Nevils, from 2005 to 2007, Hoyle also served as head baseball coach at Southeast Bulloch High.
He has 10 years experience teaching at the high school level. He was credit recovery and Georgia Virtual High School instructor for one year, and in-school suspension coordinator for another year, both at Southeast Bulloch. But he taught physical education for a longer period at Portal Middle High School, where he was promoted to athletic director and assistant principal.
So, back at Southeast Bulloch High, the only new part for Hoyle will be having the top job.
“I am really excited about taking the next step in my professional career and joining such a tremendous faculty and staff at Southeast Bulloch High School,” he said in the school system’s news release. “I look forward to building positive relationships with the students, parents, faculty, staff and community and to continuing the traditions of excellence already established by the Southeast Bulloch family.”
Hoyle didn’t grow up in the Southeast Bulloch schools, but his wife, Rosanna, did, and their two children are now students at the high school.
Hoyle attained his bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia Southern University. He holds a master’s degree in education from Cambridge College and a specialist’s degree in education leadership from Valdosta State University.
Incidentally, while a student at Georgia Southern, Hoyle worked in the Statesboro Herald’s prepress camera department, where he became nighttime supervisor.
A quarter century later, Hoyle was one of more than 20 applicants for the Southeast Bulloch principal’s position, which was posted in February. The majority of the applicants came from outside the Bulloch County system, the news release stated.
The school system has an established a screening and selection process for principals that includes candidate screenings for leadership criteria and multiple interviews. Although the superintendent makes the final recommendations, the process for new hires also allows for school council input.
Hoyle will succeed Donna Clifton, who is retiring in June after 30 years in education. She has served in Bulloch County schools for 23 years, beginning as a fifth-grade teacher at Stilson Elementary. For a decade now she has been a principal, first for six years at Southeast Bulloch Middle School and then for four years at Southeast Bulloch High.
“Everything that Mrs. Clifton has done has been extremely positive and well received, and I’d like to just carry on that tradition,” Hoyle said.
His focus, he said, will be “what’s in the best interest of the students and improving student achievement.”