TCS principal moves not a first

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As the end of the school year approaches, Troy City Schools will be forced to score a hat trick of new administrators. Three principals will be moving on from their positions, ensuring school board members of a busy summer.

But such dramatic personnel changes may not be as unfamiliar to the school system as some might think.

“It’s not the first time it has happened,” said 34-year-veteran of the school system Hank Jones.

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“It happened in 1996 when I became superintendent. I was principal at Troy Elementary School, and I moved to the central office.”

At the same time, Amos Brown left the principal’s chair at Charles Henderson Middle School to likewise move into system administration, and an opening at the high school was filled by then interim principal Dr. Linda Felton-Smith.

“The system survived, and I think got stronger,” Jones said.

And the 2003 retiree said he thought that could happen again.

“I think there is an opportunity here to continue to get better.”

Jones agreed with current school officials that the retirement of Troy Elementary School principal Geoffrey Spann was deserved but unfortunate, but he also shared in their belief that the movement of Chresal Threadgill and David Helms from the middle school and high school respectively, could eventually have beneficial results.

“They’re both strong principals, and I know they’ll be strong in the central office, as well,” Jones said. “I think it’s very positive for the whole system.”

Current superintendent, Felton-Smith said with Threadgill and Helms still in the school system, she is optimistic as well.

She said although the two will have offices at the Board of Education, their faces will still be seen at the schools.

“The former principals, along with myself, will play an active role in what goes on at the local school level,” she said.

“They will visit the schools and work with school administrators, teachers, students and parents.”

Felton-Smith said there are already strategies in place to keep system administrators on the front lines.

“The plan is for all of us at the central office to work with the new principals in the areas of curriculum and instruction, understanding assessment data and developing and implementing improvement plans so that all children are learning,” she explained.

“Knowing the type of work ethic of Mr. Helms and Mr. Threadgill, they will help to make the transition smooth, as well.”

President of the Troy Board of Education Roxie Kitchens, was also supportive of the movement.

“It is good for the entire system to have individuals of this caliber, and with it their experience, working in the central office,” Kitchens said, adding that she was confident the selection of the new principals would be done with diligence.

“I know that Dr. Felton, Mr. Helms, and Mr. Threadgill, will find the right people to fill these spots.”

Felton-Smith could not say whether the new principals would be recruited from within the school system or not.

“Our goal is to hire the very best candidates to serve as principal,” she said.

Spann, who has worked a total of 23 years as an administrator, 11 as principal of TES, said now is simply the right time to retire.

“There are people who always say ‘you’ll know when it’s time’” he said. “And it hit me that it’s time.”

Threadgill, who recently took a superintendents class, said he is ready to put those lessons to work.

“I felt like I could better serve in the central office,” Threadgill previously told The Messenger.

“I can also take the things I was doing at the middle school and implement them throughout the system.”

Helms could not be reached immediately for comment Wednesday.