During Tuesday’s extended Liberty County Board of Education work session, it was decided that four administrators will make position switches, effective July 1, to better meet the needs of students and staff at two Liberty County elementary schools.
The talks of administration changes started about a month ago, when Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer decided to make some changes to fill Dr. LaVerne Halliburton’s principal position at Button Gwinnett Elementary. Scherer chose not to renew Halliburton’s contract. Halliburton also had been on medical leave since May 10 and is scheduled to return to her position today through June 30.
“It was simply feeling like she was not the best for next year,” Scherer said. “It was simply realigning people to get the skills and expertise in the right place. I’ve talked to them all ahead of time.”
Scherer said administrative changes are made as necessary, but most are made at the end of the school year for minimal disruption.
“I constantly monitor the situation at each school and make changes as are necessary. I try not to make changes in the middle of the year so as to not disrupt the school,” Scherer said. “Principals are held to high professional standards. The Georgia Code of Ethics (and) Georgia Leadership Evaluation Instrument are two of the statewide measures. In addition, they are held accountable for professional conduct in dealing with staff and students, cleanliness of their buildings, management of the money allotted to the school and any generated through fundraisers, etc.”
Mary Guiendon, who currently is assistant principal at Joseph Martin Elementary, will step into her new position as principal at Button Gwinnett, marking her 30th year in public education.
“I have taught all elementary grades and high school social studies. I was also a technology specialist for three years before coming to Liberty County,” said Guiendon, who added that she is excited to start the job in July.
In 2003, Guiendon came to JME as a curriculum coordinator and has served as assistant principal since 2004. It will be Guiendon’s first time working at Button Gwinnett.
“I have heard wonderful things about the staff at BGE. I look forward to building relationships with the staff, students and parents,” Guiendon said. “I think the job of the principal should be to help educate children in a nurturing environment that respects the rights of the teachers to teach and the students to learn.”
Taylors Creek Elementary Assistant Principal Kathy Moody will take over Guiendon’s position. She has served as an educator and an administrator for 15 years in Georgia and in Kentucky.
“I most look forward to becoming an integral part of the JME learning community,” Moody said. “I am excited about becoming a member of the team as we all focus on educating the students.”
Dr. Tamela Scharnagl is looking forward to her job as Taylors Creek Elementary’s assistant principal. She served as the substitute principal at Button Gwinnett while Halliburton was on leave. Scharnagl has been employed by the LCSS for 15 years.
“Being the ‘temporary principal’ for the last several weeks at BGE has reminded me how important it is for assistant principals to do their job well so that the principal can complete all of his or her responsibilities with less worries,” she said.
Delores Crawford, currently the assistant principal at the Liberty County Pre-K Center, will become Button Gwinnett’s assistant principal. A few months ago, the LCSS made some cuts at the Pre-K Center due to lack of funding, leaving Crawford jobless for the 2011-12 school year. When a new position opened up, the 14-year education veteran said she was happy about the opportunity to get experience at another level.
“I once taught summer school at BGE and previously worked with several former pre-K teachers who now teach at the school. We have had many students taught at pre-K who attend BGE and I look forward to seeing how they’ve progressed,” she said. “I am also looking forward to building new relationships with the staff, students and parents who make up the BGE school community.”
Scherer said additional administrative changes, which stem from a previous meeting, include making Sonia Bacon the principal and Marti Stephens the assistant principal of Waldo Pafford Elementary. School administrators’ retirements created the openings.
“The movement of the assistant principals was to create the best working team for each school,” Scherer said of the major changes. “Most importantly, principals are also held accountable for creating a safe learning environment where each student has the opportunity to be successful and learn to their maximum potential. I know it is time to make a change when one or more aspects of the school are not working for the good of the students.”