A new principal has been chosen to lead East Franklin Elementary School. On Tuesday, the board of education unanimously approved the appointment of Shirley Parks to the position.
Parks, who is currently the assistant principal at Cartoogechaye Elementary School, will take over at East Franklin effective July 1. Born and raised in Macon County, Parks is a graduate of Franklin High School. She attended St. Augustine College in Raleigh and then went on to Western Carolina University where she first earned her Masters and then an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree.
In total, Parks has devoted 27 years to the students of the Macon County school system and has served as the assistant principal at Cartoogechaye for the past five years.
“I think I'm a great listener,” said Parks when asked about her leadership style. “I have an open door policy and will always be visible throughout the school. Parents and teachers, whoever comes through that door, I want them to feel welcomed. I want us be like a family.”
Parks also cited her love of children and her sense of humor as strengths.
“I love Cartoogechaye School, but I am so excited to be going to East Franklin,” Parks said. “It's time for me to move on, and this is a great opportunity.”
“I welcome you to the principalship at East Franklin Elementary,” Superintendent Dan Brigman told Parks following her appointment by the board. “You bring a tremendous level of leadership and respect, and we look forward to working with you.”
The appointment of Parks comes after months of uncertainty for the K-4 school. In January, Principal Terry Bradley was suspended with pay pending what Brigman called “an internal review of leadership issues.” Long-time Macon County educator Larry Brooks was immediately appointed as interim principal following the suspension.
Though no other details were released about the circumstances surrounding the suspension, Brigman stressed that it was Bradley’s performance which was under review and that no criminal allegations were involved. Then in April, just before the end of the suspension period, Bradley submitted his resignation.
Brooks, who was offered the position, declined, preferring to return to retirement, but the announcement of Parks’ appointment will signal some return to stability for the school.
Also on Tuesday, Josh Lynch, a teacher from Cowee/Iotla Valley School, was appointed by the school board to serve as Parks’ assistant principal at East Franklin. Michelle Bell, the current assistant principal at East Franklin, will be transferred to Cowee/Iotla Valley Elementary. Bell will assist Principal Gary Brown in the construction and transition process into the new Iotla Valley Elementary School, scheduled for completion in August, 2012.
Newton posthumously cited for leadership
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the recently deceased principal of Nantahala School, Robbie Newton, was recognized for outstanding leadership and support of the Macon County school system with the 2010-2011 Annual Leadership Award.
Newton, who staged a courageous battle against cancer, passed away on May 8.
“Robbie Newton demonstrated the leadership abilities and perseverance of a warrior,” said Superintendent Brigman, who noted in particular Newton's long-time service and support of the staff and students at Nantahala School.
Newton's wife, Tammy Newton, accepted the award on his behalf.
Skills USA Competition Winners
The school board also recognized students from the Macon County Career and Technical Education (CTE) program who recently received top honors at the Skills USA state competition. CTE prepares students for job and career readiness through a project-based approach.
Kory Emery took fourth place in the job skills demonstration category. Chris Southard took third place in the welding category of the state competition. Adam Queen finished first place in welding at the competition and will go on to represent Macon County schools at the national competition in Kansas City in June.
Larry Pickens is the vocational teacher at Franklin High School. Nancy Cantrell, Director of Career and Technical Education for Macon County, called Pickens a “budget breaker” as almost yearly he has students who take first place at the state level and travel on to the national competition.
Brigman also noted that Macon County's CTE program has been recognized regularly both on the state level and nationally. “We have some phenomenal students in this program as well as some outstanding educators who are teaching them skills that they can actually carry with them into the job force and make an excellent living,” Brigman said of the program.