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School district announces new principal selections at nine schools

6 mins read

From staff reports

Veteran administrators have been selected to lead nine Beaufort County School District (BCSD) schools. Superintendent Frank Rodriguez announced the new principal selections for this fall during the Wednesday, June 30 Board of Education meeting. Seven of the selections by Rodriguez were internal moves, and two were external hires from outside the district.

The nine new principals are:

M.C. Riley Elementary School – Melissa Holland, principal of Beaufort Elementary since 2015, replaces Adrienne Sutton, a 30-year district veteran who retired after serving as principal of M.C. Riley Elementary School for more than a decade and prior to that, principal of Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center. Holland’s 20-plus-year career at BCSD began as a teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary School. She has held assistant principal positions at Bluffton, Lady’s Island, and Beaufort elementary schools. She holds master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Educational Administration, both from the University of South Carolina.

Beaufort Elementary School – Michelle Sackman, principal at Mossy Oaks Elementary since 2017, replaces Melissa Holland. Sackman began her 20-plus-year educational career at BCSD as a multi-age teacher at Broad River Elementary School and has held positions at Coosa, Beaufort, and Whale Branch elementary schools. She currently serves as a curriculum writer and facilitator for the S.C. Department of Education. She holds a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Capella University.

Mossy Oaks Elementary School – Melissa Vogt, principal at Whale Branch Elementary School since 2018, replaces Michelle Sackman. A veteran educator with 20-plus years of experience at BCSD, Vogt began her career teaching at M.C. Riley Elementary School and has held assistant principal positions at Bluffton, Broad River, and Red Cedar elementary schools. She holds a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Georgia Southern University.

Whale Branch Elementary School – Marva Neal, an assistant principal at Okatie Elementary School since 2011, replaces Melissa Vogt. Neal began her career with the United States Air Force, serving as an Information Manager and Air Cargo Specialist. She has been with BCSD for 20-plus years and has held positions at St. Helena and Okatie elementary schools. She earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of South Carolina, and she holds two additional master’s degrees from Lesley University in Technology in Education and Curriculum and Instruction.

Lady’s Island Elementary School – Davina Coleman, an assistant principal at Robert Smalls International Academy since 2018, replaces Marvelle Ulmer who retired after serving as Lady’s Island Elementary School’s principal for more than a decade. Coleman began her educational career as a math teacher in Hawaii and has held positions at Beaufort Middle School and Robert Smalls International Academy. She holds a master’s degree in Education in Administration from the University of South Carolina.

Robert Smalls International Academy – Bradley Tarrance, Godwin Heights Public School Principal in Grand Rapids, Mich., replaces Celeste LaVan, Ed.D., who has been promoted to Executive Director at the District Office. Tarrance has 20-plus years in education, having served as a middle school language arts teacher and principal of two turn-around middle schools in San Antonio, Texas, where he has also held results oriented, leadership-focused positions. He holds a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Trinity University in San Antonio.

H.E. McCracken Middle School – Ryan Milling, an assistant principal at H.E. McCracken Middle School since 2020, replaces Lindsey Skirtich who left the district for a position in the private sector. Milling began his educational career as a school counselor and held positions in Darlington, Fort Mill, and Florence School District 3 before joining BCSD in 2020. He holds master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Counseling and Development, both from Winthrop University.

Hilton Head Island Middle School – Tanja Wheeler, Ed.D., an educator with international school principal experience, replaces Patricia Freda who retired after 35-plus years in education. Wheeler has 30-plus+ years of educational experience, beginning her career as a family and consumer science teacher in Hamilton, Ohio. She went on to serve as principal at Nacel International School Systems and Future International School. Wheeler holds a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University.

Battery Creek High School – Denise Lessard, an assistant principal at Battery Creek High School since 2017, replaces Chad Cox, Ed.D., who has been promoted to Executive Director at the District Office. Lessard began her 30-year educational career in Early Childhood Education in New Hampshire, later becoming a secondary social studies teacher, district new teacher mentor, and class transition director. Lessard joined BCSD as a social studies teacher at Whale Branch Early College High School in 2015 and subsequently served as an instructional coach at Battery Creek High School. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University.

The district will be selecting new principals for Whale Branch Early College High School and Whale Branch Middle School in early July.

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