Two new principals, assistant superintendent coming to Rowan-Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury School System will welcome two new principals and a new assistant superintendent this month.
The Board of Education named the three new hires Monday night.
Michael Courtwright, assistant principal at Overton Elementary School, will take over as principal of Hanford-Dole Elementary School on Monday.
Lindsey Chatham, assistant principal at Knollwood Elementary School, will start Friday as principal of Mount Ulla Elementary School.
The district’s new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction begins her duties in late February.
Dr. Julie R. Morrow, of Mooresville, has 24 years of experience in education and currently works for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
“I’m excited to come and be a part of team and part of the Rowan-Salisbury school district,” Morrow said.
Since March 2011, she has been a school transformation coach with the state’s District and School Transformation Division.
In that role, Morrow coaches low-performing schools on how to increase student achievement and improve high school graduation rates. She also has been helping schools to make the transition to the state’s new common core curriculum.
In a Tuesday phone interview with a Post reporter, she talked enthusiastically about her passion for curriculum instruction and development.
The state’s new standards, she said, will give children the opportunity to be “truly active and engaged in their learning.”
“I’m excited to be a new assistant superintendent to help teachers create that learning environment for every child and to support that shift in education,” she said. “Rowan-Salisbury Schools has done some great and innovative things in starting that process, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to enhance and grow that.”
School board member Susan Cox was one of four people who served on the interview committee for the assistant superintendent job. Dr. Rebecca Smith was the last person to hold that administrative position, which is currently vacant.
Cox said Morrow’s experience with the state will be an asset to the district.
“She’s also worked with the common core curriculum, and we’re right in middle of our first year of it,” Cox said. “The expertise she has there, I think, will be invaluable.”
Cox said she thinks Morrow can use her energy and people skills to help administration and faculty members work together as a team.
“She was very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable,” Cox said. “I think Dr. Morrow will be an excellent addition to the school system, and I look forward to working with her.”
Previously, Morrow worked as a principal for Sugar Loaf Elementary School in Taylorsville, Hiddenite Elementary School and Mooresville Intermediate School. She also taught at Park View Elementary School in Mooresville and worked as an adjunct professor at Wingate University.
Morrow has a bachelor’s degree in education from Mars Hill College and master’s degrees in education and school administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned an educational specialist degree and a doctorate in educational leadership from Appalachian State University.
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Both new principals hired Monday have more than a dozen years of experience in teaching and administration.
Courtwright, of Charlotte, was hired at Overton in March 2008. In the summer of 2010, he served as director of the North Rowan Elementary School 21st Century Community Learning Center.
“I’ve worked under a very good principal for the past five years, Betty Tunks, who showed me some very good things,” he said. “I feel like I’m very prepared for the position and I’m looking forward to it.”
Courtwright said he will get together with staff and talk about the school improvement plan, increasing school achievement and implementing the common core curriculum. He also wants to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
“I’m just very excited to start working there with the students, working with the staff and working with the community,” he said.
Before joining the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Courtwright taught at Lingerfeldt Elementary School in Gastonia for one year and Spaugh Middle School in Charlotte for four years.
Courtwright has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Geneva College and a master’s degree in K-12 school administration from Gardner-Webb University.
He will replace Shanda Adkins (formerly Shanda McFarlin) as principal of Hanford Dole.
Adkins said Tuesday that she is relocating with her family from Salisbury to Wilkes County, where her husband already works. She will become the new principal of Moravian Falls Elementary School.
She said she will be sad to leave Hanford Dole after three years there.
“I put a lot of time and effort into this school, made a lot of friends and worked with a lot of students and families,” Adkins said. “I’ll miss them both on a personal and professional level.”
Chatham, of Davidson, has worked at Knollwood since August 2008.
“I’m very, very excited about this,” Chatham said. “Being at Knollwood has really allowed me to learn and grow as an instructional leader. I’m looking forward to taking the knowledge that I’ve gained here and blending it with the things they already have in place in Mount Ulla.”
She is planning to meet with school staff today. Chatham said she wants to get to know the staff members, students and families there and see where they want to go next.
“Like a lot of other schools, we’ll be working on common core, building that understanding with teachers and fostering that so our students are getting everything they need to be successful learners,” she said. “To me, that’s the biggest goal right now, to fully implement the common core and do so in the way that it’s intended.”
She said it will be hard to leave Knollwood and its staff, but they are excited for her as she moves on to her new job.
Chatham was first hired to the Rowan-Salisbury School System in August 2006 as a third grade teacher at Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Elementary School.
Prior to that, she taught for four years at Henry Partee Elementary School in Snellville, Ga., and for two years as a second grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Kannapolis.
Chatham has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in school administration from Gardner-Webb University.
She will take over for interim principal Larry Britt at Mount Ulla Elementary School. Britt has been serving in that role since Lea Anne Thomas left to become principal of China Grove Elementary.