New principals will lead two south Bartow schools in the next academic year and one will help select a new name and mascot for his school.
Woodland High School Principal Wes Dickey will lead South Central Middle School, which will be renamed before the 2019-2020 school year begins.
Dickey will be replaced at Woodland by David Stephenson, an assistant principal at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw.
The Bartow County School Board April 15 unanimously approved Superintendent Phillip Page’s recommendations for both positions beginning July 1.
Dickey will replace Tia Windsor, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 16 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at the Emerson school.
Page said he “appreciated” Dickey for taking on the task of leading what he jokingly called “some school in Bartow County” and assisting the committee which will choose the new name, colors and mascot.
“There’s no one more respected in our school system than you,” Page told Dickey during the school board meeting.
“I’m very thankful you’re taking on this awesome responsibility of leading that staff, leading that city of Emerson,” Page said. “They’re so eager to get things on the way,” Dickey has served as Woodland High’s principal since July 2016 after one year as principal of Woodland Middle School.
He has been a teacher or administrator at Woodland middle and high schools for 22 years after beginning his career in 1994 as a teacher in Orlando, Florida, according to his LinkedIn page.
Dickey said after the meeting he missed working in the middle school setting, where he was an administrator at Woodland Middle a total of eight years between stints as a Woodland High administrator for an additional seven years.
He said he believed he could make a “greater impact” on students in grades six through eight than on older students.
“Now, that is not to say middle school is easier,” Dickey said. “Students can change so much during that three-year timespan and having an impact on that change is the ‘passion’ that drove me to this opportunity.”
He said he and his new staff, faculty and parents at the “school to be named later” in Emerson will work collaboratively to improve the school’s performance “in all areas” such as the Milestones end-of-course tests.
“Our greatest success will be in preparing every student for the next level and that transition from middle to high school,” Dickey said.
“If we can send a better prepared incoming ninth-grader to Woodland High and Cass High than we will feel some satisfaction,” he said. “The ultimate satisfaction will be four years later when they get their high school diploma.”
Dickey also will be a member of the committee that will recommend the new name, colors and mascot for the school.
South Central opened in 1989 and has about 650 students who reside in the areas of Bartow County east and south of the city of Cartersville. Its sports teams are the Chieftains and colors are maroon and gold.
Page has said community members approached him in August about finding “a new name for the school that better represents the community it serves.”
The committee is set to meet May 7. It will include Dickey, Windsor and school administrators, community members and a student from each grade level of the school.
“A team, representative of all members of the current “Chieftain” family, will be assembled on that date to rebrand the school,” Dickey said. “This is an exciting time for everyone involved and I cannot wait for this date to arrive.”
Dickey’s replacement at Woodland will be a longtime administrator, teacher and coach in the Cobb County system.
Stephenson has served as assistant principal at North Cobb High since July 2015 after more than nine years as a teacher and administrator in the Cobb system, including the coordinator of the North Cobb School for International Studies magnet program, according to his LinkedIn page.
The board also approved Page’s recommendation of Berthena Oreal Oladele as the system’s new school nutrition director beginning July 1.
Oladale will replace Pam Blakeney, who is retiring after 30 years with Bartow schools.