Schools seeking leaders

Published 8:08 am Friday, April 3, 2009

FRANKLIN—Someone in want of a school principal job may do well to look in Franklin and Southampton County.

Three positions are now available here, including two of the three principal jobs in the city.

Horatio M. Douglas, principal at J.P. King Middle School, announced that he is leaving his post to “pursue other opportunities.”

Franklin High School Principal Sam Jones will retire after the school year is out, as will Andrea Ellis, the principal of Riverdale Elementary School in Courtland.

Douglas, who is originally from Newport News, is in his second year as head of the middle school, where he oversees 35 teachers and 247 students. He said he is leaving to help his family’s business and do consulting work.

“I enjoyed my time here,” Douglas said. “I learned so much, and I do appreciate everything that has been done for me.”

Douglas said the new principal at J.P. King will have many challenges, but that he or she will come on board with a strong staff and encouragement from school administration.

“The main focus is academics and improving test scores,” he said. “Good, solid instruction is always important. The staff has been wonderful and central office, too. Overall, the city and staff embraced me.”

Douglas said he is especially proud of implementing the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, a program for those students who need male mentorship at the school.

“It gives them active male role models,” Douglas said.

School Board member Robert Meredith said finding the right educator to replace Douglas is of high importance.

Qualifications listed on the posting include a minimum of three years in the middle school or public school setting as a principal, a license or eligibility to hold a Virginia license and “proven ability to provide instructional leadership that leads to meeting all local, state and federal benchmarks.”

“Our concern is that we have a middle school that is in academic trouble,” Meredith said. “We really need someone who can bring specific experience to that task. There’s a lot of work here to be done. There’s no doubt about that.”

School Board Chairman Bill Scarboro agreed.

“They have to manage the building, be someone who has a passion for quality instruction and support teachers in those endeavors,” Scarboro said. “And, quite frankly, bring that school to AYP and SOL accreditation. There are people out there who can do it, and we are going to find them. We have to look hard and dig deep and ask a lot of questions.”

As for Douglas, Scarboro said, “I wish him well.”