By Josh Presley
This upcoming school year will be one of transition for both Union County schools and New Albany schools. County schools in particular are undergoing a lot of administrative changes.
Jamey Wright, who was the principal at New Albany Elementary School, has moved to be the new principal of West Union Attendance Center. Wright taught first grade through fourth grade at NAES for five years, then moved to West Union to teach and coach for two years, before going back to New Albany, first as an assistant principal then principal of the elementary school and is now back at West Union to be the principal.
“West Union is home,” Wright said. “We live out this way, my wife teaches here and my kids go to school here. It's just a great school and a great community.”
Wright said he didn't come to West Union because he was unhappy at New Albany.
“New Albany Elementary was great,” he said. “They have a great staff and great admistration in the central office that was great to work for. I was very happy there, it was just time for a change.”
Wright said he inherited a great staff at West Union and expects to continue the positive things that are going on in the school.
“We're going to improve everywhere we can find ways to improve,” he said. “No matter how good you are, there's always room for improvement so we're going to try and identify those areas where we can improve and get after it.”
Joining Wright as assistant principal at West Union will be Matt Thompson. Thompson was previously a math teacher at Ingomar Attendance Center and this will be his first administrative position.
“I wanted to be somewhere where I could get a good start,” Thompson said. “I grew up in Hickory Flat and we always came here to play basketball and baseball, and I always kind of held West Union in high esteem.”
Thompson said he went to graduate school with Wright and respected him a lot.
“I knew he'd be somebody I'd want to work for,” Thompson said. “He was in my shoes not that long ago so he'll be able to steer me in the right direction.”
Taking Wright's place at New Albany Elementary School will be Windy Faulkner, formerly an assistant principal for five years at the elementary school at Ingomar.
Faulkner said her ultimate goal is to be superintendant someday, and she knew she needed experience being a head principal in order to reach that goal. The night duties at Ingomar also made it difficult for her, as she has three young children.
“I think last year I worked 170 nights,” she said. “When you have small children that's hard, but an adminstrator there has to be at every duty so that was part of my job, but being at a school like New Albany means I won't have duties unless it's something we do here at the school.”
Faulkner said there was some initial awkwardness going from a county to a city school, but she's gotten over it. She said she's a little overwhelmed right now but the transition is going good.
She said her goal for the school is to have a Star School and the best elementary school in the state, but she isn't making a lot of changes right away.
“I didn't want to come in this summer and start changing everything,” she said. “In the future I'll probably make some changes but for the first year I'm going to kind of observe and figure everything out.”
Stepping up to take Faulkner's place at Ingomar is Roben Denton, who has been a teacher there for 13 years.
Denton said both her parents were teachers and her mother was also an assistant principal, and she's been thinking about taking an administrative job since 2009. She had applied to other places but the position came open at Ingomar and she was glad to take it and stay home.
“I would have taken a job elsewhere but this is where I ultimately wanted to come back to,” Denton said. “Ingomar is home and this is where I want to be.”
Denton said she's grown up in Ingomar and doesn't intend to leave.
“I think we've got a wonderful community here,” she said. “I take pride in that because I'm also and Ingomar graduate and I've lived here my entire life. This is a wonderful opportunity and this is where I hope to finish my career.”
Union County Schools Superintendent Ken Basil said that this number of transitions in the schools is unusual and the most he's seen in his time in office. He said usually they don't see that much transition of any kind, but this year the county schools are having around 30 new hires.
“I hope this trend doesn't continue because it's been a headache for our principals and this office,” Basil said. “Usually when people get a job here they're pretty much set until retirement, but I've talked to people from some of our surrounding districts and a lot of them are having big changes too.”
Basil said that the transition has been smooth, though, and he has full confidence in the new principals in the district.
“Jamey's already hit the ground running and is going to make that school even better,” he said. “Matt Thompson is a capable young man, and Roben Denton has been at Ingomar for a while so she pretty much knows the ropes.
New Albany Schools Superintendent Jackie Ford said that the city schools haven't seen as much transition aside from Faulkner. He said the transition is going smoothly and he expects great things from her.