Statesboro High School’s new principal for the 2021-22 school year will be Keith Wright, who is currently principal of Langston Chapel Elementary School. Southeast Bulloch High School will also get a new principal, Dr. Julie Mizell, currently principal of William James Middle School.
As reported in March, Statesboro High Principal Chad Prosser had asked to be transferred to a new administrative role within the Bulloch County Schools after the end of this school year. The Board of Education at its April 15 meeting approved Prosser to be a school improvement director in the central office. Meanwhile, as of Monday current Southeast Bulloch High Principal Stephen Hoyle was awaiting a new administrative assignment after what Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson described as a mutual decision, and with Hoyle stating that he plans to retire one year from now with 30 years credited service.
Obviously, the moves of Wright and Mizell created openings at Langston Chapel Elementary and William James Middle, but these have already been filled as well. In all, eight of the 15 schools will have new principals beginning July 1. After actions approved by the board March 25, April 15 and an April 29 and a couple of transfers Wilson made on his own, all eight principal vacancies have been filled with administrators who were already working in the county school system.
“We’re always looking for the best leaders we can find,” Wilson said on the phone Monday. “We even redesigned our interview and our application process this year. So we opened this up to provide all opportunity possible for outside applicants, and we had some outside applicants.”
But he noted that the Board of Education also has had a focus on “developing internal talent to be in a leadership capacity” in recent years.
“What resulted was, at least in the principal searches, we had some applicants from the outside and our internal applicants rose up naturally in the process, which is a good thing. …,” Wilson said. “It can be looked at in different ways, but I think we’re very fortunate to have strong internal applicants that know our district and can do the work that needs to be done.”
Wright to SHS
Wright was hired by Wilson and the Bulloch County Board of Education as an assistant principal for Langston Chapel Middle School in July 2018, then transferred next door to Langston Chapel Elementary as interim principal in 2019 and confirmed as its principal in 2020. Now Wilson is transferring Wright, as a principal already, from the Langston Chapel Elementary to Statesboro High.
Pennington to NES
In turn, Dr. Nate Pennington, currently and for the last seven years principal of Nevils Elementary School, is being transferred to Langston Chapel Elementary, replacing Wright. Before his service at Nevils, Pennington was principal of Julia P. Bryant Elementary. He has been employed by the school system for 24 years.
Mizell to SEBHS
Unlike Wright and Pennington, who were transferred by the superintendent without a board vote, Mizell applied for the Southeast Bulloch High School principal’s job after the vacancy was publicly advertised. So she went through a hiring process, and her new appointment was part of a list of recommendations from Wilson approved by the Board of Education on a 6-0 vote, with two members absent, Thursday evening.
Mizell, who has been principal of William James Middle School for four years, was principal of Sallie Zetterower Elementary for four years before that, and a Statesboro High School assistant principal for seven years previously, for a total of 15 years so far as an administrator.
“We posted those positions for the two high schools, and after reflecting on what we have there, Dr. Mizell is a great fit for Southeast Bulloch High School, and Mr. Wright was a great fit for Statesboro High School, and of course that allowed me to move Mr. Pennington over to Langston Elementary, so really it’s turned out to be a good result,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, as of midday Monday, Wilson had not assigned Hoyle to a new position. A statement in a school system news release Friday that he would become an assistant principal at Langston Chapel Elementary School was a result of miscommunication by Wilson about one possibility considered, he said.
But the decision that Hoyle will leave Southeast Bulloch High for another job in the school district had been made before the vacancy was advertised.
“It was a mutual decision,” Wilson said. “We just had some changes we needed to make going forward, and I had some conversations with Mr. Hoyle, and it was something I’d approached him about that we came to a mutual understanding about.”
Wilson said he promised Hoyle he will keep principal’s pay if he takes an assistant principal job.
On the phone Monday, Hoyle said he plans to retire one year from now. With COVID-19 restrictions and a temporary change in SEB High’s class schedule both ending, the school will be better off in the hands of a principal coming in with a long-range plan instead of one retiring in 2022, he suggested. For reasons related to virtual instruction, SEBHS just this year switched from block scheduling – with four periods throughout the year but the possibility of different courses fall and spring semester – to a year-long, seven-period day.
Now, the school is expected to revert to block scheduling. Georgia’s rating of schools by means of the College and Career Ready Performance Index may also resume.
“We’re going back to the block next year, and then with CCRPI probably cranking back up again, you probably want somebody to come in with a three- to five-year plan, as opposed to my last year,” Hoyle said, “and I had told them honestly, I said, ‘I’ve got one more year left and after next year I’ll be retiring.’”
He has been SEBHS principal since 2017. Before then he was assistant principal at Stilson Elementary School, and before that a teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal at Portal. He began his career 28 years ago as a physical education teacher at Nevils Elementary.
5 by promotion
At five other schools, assistant principals have, in effect, been promoted to become principals without having to go to a different school. In each case, they applied for the job when it was advertised and were recommended by Wilson and approved by the board.
Julia P. Bryant Elementary’s new principal, as of July 1, will be current Assistant Principal Stephanie Compton. She succeeds current Principal Pam Goodman, who applied to be and has been hired as the district’s new Virtual Learning Program director for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Langston Chapel Middle’s new principal will be current Assistant Principal Kelia Francis. After the resignation of Dr. Eric Carlyle one year ago, Dr. Todd Veland, a school improvement director for the district, served as the school’s interim principal for 2020-2021.
Mattie Lively Elementary’s new principal will be Aldric Dekle. Previously an assistant principal, Dekle and Assistant Principal Farrah Reddick served as interim co-principals during this school year’s second semester, after Dr. Laurie Mascolo stepped down during the first semester to become a special education coordinator at Langston Chapel Elementary.
Nevils Elementary’s new principal will be current Assistant Principal Robert Lindsey, succeeding Pennington in the top job.
William James Middle’s new principal will be current Assistant Principal Scott Chapman, succeeding Mizell in the top job.
A district committee was conducting interviews for assistant principal jobs Monday, and Wilson said there were many more outside applicants at that level.
Hayley Greene, BCS public relations director, provided the list of principal assignments and other information.