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KCS names principals for A.L. Brown and Forest Park

Kannapolis City Schools
KANNAPOLIS ó Kevin Garay will be the new principal of A.L. Brown High School, and Dr. Melia H. Neale will be Forest Park Elementary’s new principal, according to a Kannapolis City School press release.
The Kannapolis City Board of Education appointed the two as replacements for principals who will leave their posts June 30. Garay and Neale take their new jobs July 1.
Garay replaces Dr. Debra Morris, who will be the system’s assistant superintendent.
Garay has been an assistant principal at A.L. Brown since 2005. He came to Kannapolis from East Lincoln High School, where he was a social studies teacher and part-time administrator.
Morris was the director of secondary education for Lincoln County Schools and saw his leadership potential. She hired him as an assistant principal when she became principal of A.L. Brown in 2005.
“He will be an outstanding leader for A.L. Brown High School,” Morris said. “He has a passion for serving kids, and he’s respected by the staff and students. I know he’ll lead A.L. Brown in a positive direction, and I feel wonderful about Mr. Garay taking my place.I’m excited for him and for everyone at A.L. Brown.”
Garay graduated with honors from Concord University in Athens, W.Va., with a B.A. in political science and Geography. He earned a B.S. in education from Concord University and earned a master of school administration degree from Gardner-Webb University in 2004. He also attended the West Virginia University College of Law.
Garay says he’s looking forward to the opportunity to lead A.L. Brown. “Dr. Morris is an exceptional leader, and she’s been an outstanding mentor to me. I’m excited about the chance to follow in her footsteps. Our high school and community are at the forefront of innovative thinking, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to produce students that are globally competitive. A.L. Brown has great students and staff, and I’m looking forward to the chance to help lead them to the next level of success.”
KCS Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Byerly says, “Kevin Garay will be an excellent principal. He’s got tremendous judgment and leadership skills, and he has the admiration and respect of everyone at A.L. Brown. He’s also served next to Dr. Debra Morris who is one of the most outstanding school leaders anywhere. Mr. Garay has the experience and intelligence to be successful, and I’m delighted that we’re making such a smooth transition at A.L. Brown.”
At Forest Park, Neale replaces Jill Roach, who is retiring. Neale comes to Kannapolis City Schools from UNC Charlotte, but she previously served as an elementary school principal.
Neale is currently a research associate at UNC Charlotte and a part-time instructor at Western Carolina University. From 2003 to 2006, she was principal of Graham Elementary School in Shelby. She also was an assistant principal at East Lincoln Middle School in Lincoln County and a teacher in Mooresville and Mocksville.
“As soon as I saw the mission, beliefs, and strategic priorities of Kannapolis City Schools, I knew I wanted to be part of this school system,” Neale said. “I love public education, and I’m dedicated to making sure every child has a positive, high quality learning experience. I know I’ve come to the right place, and I’m thrilled about working with the children and staff of Forest Park.”
Neale graduated from UNC Charlotte. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education. She also earned a Master of School Administration degree and a Ph.D. in Special Education from UNC Charlotte. She was awarded a prestigious Principal Fellow scholarship and has 15 years experience as an educator in North Carolina public schools. Much of her career has been focused on teaching exceptional children.
As principal of Graham Elementary School, Neale led an inner city school with a poverty rate of nearly 90 percent. She and her staff started a research-based reading program that was designed for at-risk students. They also increased parent involvement and helped to raise student achievement and community participation in the school.
“I’m so excited about Melia Neale coming to Forest Park Elementary,” said Byerly. “Her character and qualifications are outstanding, and she has the right background and personality to lead Forest Park. She’s been extremely successful in everything she’s done, and she’ll do a wonderful job at Forest Park.”

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