County school name new principals

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Following the retirement of three veteran principals, a transfer to a new school and the planned opening of Central Academic Magnet School, Director of Schools Harry Gill Jr. has chosen five new principals who will begin their new duties during the summer months.

Gill has named the following new principals:

- Dr. John Ash, Central Academic Magnet School

- Dr. Chontel Bridgman, Homer Pittard Campus School

- Mark Gullion, Cedar Grove Elementary School

- Michael Hickman, Buchanan Elementary School

- Kay Martin, Walter Hill Elementary School

“Mark Gullion, Michael Hickman and Kay Martin have all come through the ranks at a time when academic accountability is the highest it’s ever been,” Gill said. “They’ve learned so much as young assistant principals. I have no doubt in my mind they are ready to lead their own schools.

“Dr. John Ash has been with the district for many years and has been successful on the high school and middle school levels, including his leadership at Christiana Middle School. He seemed like the perfect person to help us develop and implement a 6-12 magnet school, which will be a first for Rutherford County.

“Dr. Chontel Bridgman has several years of administration experience and already has a working relationship with MTSU,” Gill said. “Those qualities made her an ideal candidate for the principal position at Campus School.”

A search will begin immediately to fill the vacancies left by the new principals.

Dr. John Ash
Dr. John Ash will lead the district’s first magnet school for middle and high school grades. The school’s focus will be math and science for high achieving students and is scheduled to open in August 2010. Dr. Ash will begin as principal of the school during the 2009-2010 school to manage the transition and implementation of the new school and its curriculum.

“I’m very excited and believe there is an enormous opportunity and capability to make this one of the best schools in Tennessee,” Dr. Ash said. “I look forward to the challenge of putting together a quality team of educators and working with the community to develop a school that allows each child to reach their full potential.”

Dr. Ash has been with Rutherford County Schools for 12 years. He currently serves as the principal of Christiana Middle School, a position he has held for the past six years. He previously served as an assistant principal at LaVergne High School for four years, as the summer school site director for one year, and as a science teacher and coach at LaVergne High.

Dr. Chontel Bridgeman
Dr. Bridgeman will begin her new duties as the principal of Homer Pittard Campus School in July, following the retirement of Principal Stan Baskin.

Campus School, as it is more commonly known, is a teaching school owned by Middle Tennessee State University and operated by Rutherford County Schools. During the year, education majors at the university work alongside RCS teachers to gain hands-on classroom experience. Campus is a choice school and parents can put their children on a waiting list for admission beginning at age 4.

Since March, Dr. Bridgeman has served as the interim principal of Cedar Grove Elementary School, following the transfer of Kellye Goostree as principal of Brown’s Chapel Elementary School, a new elementary school opening in August 2009. Previously, Dr. Bridgeman served as the assistant principal at Cedar Grove since the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year and served as an assistant principal at Christiana Middle School for three years. She has been an educator for 16 years including six years as an administrator.

Mark Gullion
Mark Gullion is the current assistant principal at Smyrna Elementary School and also worked as the interim principal at LaVergne Primary School for three months in 2009.

He has served as the full-time assistant principal at Smyrna Elementary School for the past year, but previously served as the assistant principal at both Smyrna Elementary and Smyrna Primary School for 2½ years. He started with Rutherford County Schools as a classroom teacher at Smyrna Elementary in 2002.

Michael Hickman
Michael Hickman has been with Rutherford County Schools since 1996 and worked as a classroom teacher at Rock Springs Elementary School and Thurman Francis Arts Academy until 2004. He also worked as the School-based Technology Specialist (STS) at McFadden School of Excellence before being named assistant principal at Rock Springs Elementary, where he currently serves.

Hickman succeeds longtime Principal Mike Swanson, who is retiring at the end of the 2008-2009 school year.

Kay Martin
Kay Martin has been an educator since 1999 when she started as an eighth-grade Language Arts teacher at Walter J. Baird School in Lebanon. She joined Rutherford County Schools in 2002 as a Language Arts teacher at Siegel Middle School and later taught at LaVergne Middle School, where she became an assistant principal in 2006.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity Mr. Gill has given me to serve Walter Hill Elementary. I look forward to working with the faculty, students, and community to continue the tradition of excellence Mr. Campbell has established.”

Martin succeeds Butch Campbell, who has served as principal at Walter Hill for the past 30 years but is retiring at the end of the 2008-2009 school year.
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Members Opinions:
May 15, 2009 at 5:10pm
Congratulations to Dr. Ash on his appointment. I have known him for several years both personally and professionally and I think he will do a great job.
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