New principals named at FHS, J.P. King

Published 10:14 am Saturday, June 20, 2009

FRANKLIN—When students and staff members return next school year, two of Franklin’s public schools will have new leaders. Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rich Belle formally introduced the new administrators during the city school board meeting Thursday night.

Lawrence P. Whiting, who is currently the principal of Brunswick County High School, will take over as principal of Franklin High School, replacing Sam Jones, who retired at the end of the school year.

“This is sort of a dream job for me,” said Whiting, a U.S. Army officer and former restaurateur who holds degrees and certificates from the University of Maryland, Norfolk State and Regent universities.

Some aspects of Franklin and Brunswick County high schools are similar, according to Whiting, who said that Brunswick County’s accreditation status had improved under his watch.

“I visited Franklin High School and met some of the students, and it felt like I was at home there,” he said. Whiting, who lives in Suffolk, is also looking forward to the shorter commute and the opportunity to help shape Franklin High’s students.

“I want to make sure that we’re turning out well-rounded students that can be productive members of society,” he said.

Rodney L. Berry, who serves as an assistant principal at Deep Run High School in Henrico County, will take over the top position at J.P. King Middle School, replacing Horatio Douglas. In April, Douglas told The Tidewater News that he was leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”

Berry holds degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William & Mary and is currently a doctoral candidate at VCU.

Both Whiting and Berry have teaching as well as administrative experience.

Belle said that the school board and staff members are behind the new administrators.

“We’re excited for you,” Belle said. “We’re here to support you and we wish you the best while you’re here with us in Franklin.”

Berry said that the hiring of Belle as superintendent last school year is mainly what drew him to Franklin.

“She has a lot of great ideas that I share in terms of moving the school system forward,” he said. “I want to be a part of that mission and vision that she has.”

Berry will not be the only new administrator at J.P. King when it opens this fall.

The school board approved a measure that would allow an assistant administrator position to be added at the school.

The position had previously been removed because of budget constraints

“With the needs of that building, with a new instructional leader, I think that we’re cutting the legs from under him if we don’t add this position,” Belle told school board members before the vote.