Brown will bring his ‘contagious’ energy to Salisbury High as principal

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 22, 2013

Luke Brown says the tradition and history of Salisbury High School appealed to him.
Parents of students at the school say they hope as its new principal, Brown can build on that tradition and carry Salisbury High into the future.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System Board of Education voted Dec. 16 to hire Brown for the job at Salisbury. At the same meeting, the board named Lennetta Bartley the new principal at Henderson Independent High School.
Brown will take over as Salisbury High School’s principal on Jan. 21. He will earn an annual salary of $72,600.
“This school just appealed to me for a number of reasons,” Brown said. “The school’s got a rich tradition. It’s got a lot of history.”
Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said that Brown’s references were “outstanding” and that she thought “his energy was contagious.”
Moody said she looking for a leader who could see students from different perspectives.
“Luke’s ability and background of personally being involved in different high school experiences appealed to me,” she added.
“I think he’s going into a good school that I believe he can make better,” Moody said.
Brown has served as an assistant principal at Trinity High School in Randolph County since August 2009 and is Randolph County School’s 2012-13 Assistant Principal of the Year.
“I believe I have set myself up here to be an integral part of the team,” Brown said, referring to his time at Trinity High School.
Brown has built good relationships with students and teachers. He is the chairman of Trinity’s school improvement team, and serves as the school’s bus coordinator. He is also involved in athletics and student discipline.
Before he became an assistant principal at Trinity, Brown was the band director at Eastern Randolph High School for eight years.
Not only did he teach classes and direct each band, Brown served as an administrator for the band program. He managed budgets, scheduled performances, worked with booster clubs and administered discipline.
Brown received his master’s degree in education leadership from University of Phoenix in April 2011. He completed the degree program online while working at Trinity. In 2001, he graduated from Western Carolina University with bachelor’s degree in music education.
Salisbury High School has been looking for a principal since late September, when Dr. Avis Williams resigned. The school board received 47 applications for the position between Sept. 27 and Dec. 2.
The school system sought an unusual amount of community input in the process, including a town hall meeting and an anonymous survey.
Moody said district officials worked really hard to seek feedback from students and parents to find out what they “wanted in a leader in the building.”
Brown will replace Kathy McDuffie, who has served as the school’s interim principal since Williams’ departure in October.
Williams was principal from July 2, 2012 to Oct. 11, 2013. She left to become the executive director of curriculum and instruction for secondary schools with Guilford County Schools.
Williams was preceded by Dr. Windsor Eagle, who retired after 30 years at Salisbury High School.
“It would be very tough for someone new to come in,” said Elaine Holden, whose daughter is a sophomore at Salisbury High and whose son will be attending there in a couple of years. “There’s so much pride in this school.”
Holden admits that she doesn’t know much about Brown, but from what she’s heard and read, she’s “excited about the possibilities” of having him on board at Salisbury.
He seems to have “excitement and a desire to be here,” she said “I hope that if he’s good that he stays a long time and continues to build a sense of community at the school.”
Holly Grant’s daughter is a senior at Salisbury.
“I’m hopeful that Dr. Moody saw potential in him to be a great leader,” Grant said. “Right now, we just have to trust that she knew what she was doing and that she made a good choice.”
Both women expressed their desire that Brown and his family move to Salisbury and work to become a part of the community.
Brown and his wife Elissa have been married for 11 years. They have a 6-year-old named Noah and a 2-year-old named Mason. Elissa works as a registered nurse.
“We’re a close family,” Brown said.
Brown plans to commute to Salisbury from his home in Asheboro through the end of this school year so Noah, can finish first grade in his current classroom.
This summer, the family will move to Salisbury.
“We will be living in the greater Salisbury area,” Brown said.
Bartley will begin her duties as principal at Henderson Independent High School on Jan. 6. She will earn an annual salary of $64,608.
Moody said in addition to having “outstanding references,” everyone on the hiring committee felt that Bartley was “very clear with her vision” for Henderson.
Bartley was selected for the position out of 15 people who applied for the position between Nov. 5 and Dec. 2.
Bartley has received two master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T University. She graduated in 1999 with her degree in technology education, and again in 2008 with a degree in school administration. She graduated from Winston-Salem State University in 1986 with her bachelor’s degree in sociology.
Bartley has served as an assistant principal at North Rowan Middle School since 2009.
Her current responsibilities include evaluating teachers, guidance counselors and other staff members. Bartley is the lead the curriculum and instruction administrator. She is also responsible for staff development.
Before Bartley came to Rowan County, she was a curriculum coordinator and facilitator in Guilford County and Forsyth County, where she oversaw state-mandated testing between 2005 and 2009.
From 2002 to 2004, Bartley was an academic coach for Guilford County Schools. She assisted principals in the system with curriculum and analyzed end-of-grade testing data.
Bartley was a teacher in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System from 1997 to 2002. She taught technology, structural systems, computer engineering, science and math.
Bartley also worked as a social worker in Forsyth County for 11 years.
Bartley will be taking over for Dr. Christopher Vecchione, who submitted his letter of resignation Nov. 4. He is leaving due to career change.
Vecchione began working for Rowan-Salisbury Schools in October 2010 as the district’s school improvement coordinator. He became Henderson’s principal on Jan. 14, 2011.
Moody said each school comes with its own unique set of challenges, and Henderson — the system’s alternative high school — is no exception. It is a smaller school, with fewer faculty members and students. However, its students often come with “many more challenges.”
Henderson needs a leader who can “think creatively” about how to offer a different educational environment than the other schools, she said.
Moody said that Bartley has wanted to be the principal at Henderson for a long time.
“She certainly has a great vision for Henderson.”
Bartley declined to be interviewed.