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Kannapolis principal to take director position with Mecklenburg project

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS — A Kannapolis City school system leader will be leaving in April to take on the role of executive director of Project L.I.F.T., a $55 million initiative to improve Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ West Charlotte corridor.
Earlier this week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Beth Marshall, the principal of Jackson Park Elementary, to the position.
“My initial reaction was that she is a good principal and I didn’t want her to go,” said Dr. Pam Cain, superintendent of the Kannapolis district. “But that’s a good reaction because that tells you she’s done a good job.
“The more we talked about it, I realized it was a good opportunity for her.”
Project L.I.F.T, which stands for Leadership and Investment For Transformation, was created at the end of January 2011. The project focuses on closing the achievement gap by implementing additional services and education enhancements such as technology at West Charlotte High School and the middle and elementary schools that feed into it.
“It’s a philanthropic endeavor with several private investors and $55 million to turn around nine school in west Charlotte in five years,” Marshall said. “I’ll be working closely with those nine schools … It’s a wonderful opportunity.
“I very much believe in the mission and vision of the project and an excited to go be part of it, but I’m very sad to leave a wonderful school like Jackson Park.”
Cain said Marshall, who started at Jackson Park in 2010, has worked to improve student achievement.
“The achievement scores have been very good,” she said. “That school is also receiving an energy award, so that shows she’s not only looking at the academic side, she’s been very conservative, very green.”
As Kannapolis searches for a new principal, Cain said she’ll look for someone who uses data to drive instruction the way Marshall did.
“Beth had a diverse background in curriculum as well as exceptional children,” Cain said. “She can really take a look at at-risk students and pinpoint what they need.
“That’s really her passion.”
Nancy Barbee, who served as the principal of Fred L. Wilson Elementary before retiring in 2004, will serve as the interim principal at Jackson Park until a replacement is hired.
“(Jackson Park) has a very good staff in place,” Cain said. “We’ll miss Beth as a leader, but we feel confident moving forward that it will be a smooth transition.”
Cain said she plans to have the position posted as soon as possible and filled by July 1.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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