This year saw the passing of Robbie Newton, principal of Nantahala School, after a long battle with cancer. Newton, 39, was loved and respected by the students and teachers at Nantahala School, and colleagues spoke of the positive role-model and inspiration he had been.
“It’s a huge loss for the community and the school. He touched the lives of many students and colleagues over the past 15 or so years that he worked at Nantahala School,” said Franklin High School principal Chris Baldwin who had worked with Newton for a number of years.
Newton started teaching at the school in 1996 after receiving his B.A. from Western Carolina University. He held numerous teaching certificates and in 2009 was awarded an M.A. in Education Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University.
In his time at the Nantahala School, Newton wore many hats. He was the middle school math teacher for many years before taking over as principal after Baldwin’s transfer last summer. He was also the head basketball coach for boys and girls teams and led both to the conference championships in 2007.
Over the past year, Newton was often too sick to work, but he still attempted to stay as involved as possible with the school. He regularly attended district principals’ meetings over the last year.
“Even though it was a struggle, he was there,” said school board member and former FHS principal, Gary Shields. “I really think the love and concern he had for the kids at Nantahala was his motivation, and it was an inspiration to me and others.”
“Robbie Newton was a tremendous leader, a passionate educator and a dear friend,” said Superintendent Dan Brigman said. “He devoted many years to Nantahala School and the students there. It’s a great loss for our students, our staff and our school system.”