Two will share Southern Elementary principal duties

New Southern Local Elementary Principal Richard Wright and Assistant Elementary Principal/Curriculum Director Emily Brinker stand outside the board offices after they were named to their new positions on Wednesday. (Photo by Deanne Johnson)

SALINEVILLE — Southern Local Elementary will have not one but two principals when school starts this fall.

Four present members of the board of education voted unanimously on Wednesday to make Richard Wright the newest elementary school principal, replacing Kristy Sampson. Wright most recently served as the Utica Shale Academy administrator.

The board also voted to make first-grade teacher Emily Brinker the assistant elementary principal/curriculum advisor, a position that did not previously exist.

Sampson is returning to the district as the title and grant coordinator this fall.

Following the meeting, Superintendent Tom Cunningham said with all the testing requirements, discipline issues, meetings to attend and other job-related responsibilities, it is often difficult for the elementary principal to be very involved in working with classroom instruction. With test scores from last year starting to come in, Cunningham said there are areas where the students are showing the strength of the school, but weaknesses that need to be addressed as well.

As it stood before Cunningham indicated, when Sampson was out of the building, it also pulled the guidance counselor away from doing what they should be doing to address the gap.

With two administrators, Cunningham said the belief is this will have a positive impact on the school, allowing teachers to feel like they are not on an island, but have someone involved in helping them go in the direction needed. Cunningham said Brinker took the initiative before this promotion to serve on a building leadership team.

Although the test scores have not been released yet to the public, Cunningham said a team from the school went to a Buckeye Association of School Administrators event through the Ohio Department of Education and have begun to analyze the test scores.

Wright’s contract is for three years and Brinker’s is for two years. They will team up to lead the elementary school, which currently has about 460 students enrolled.

Cunningham said at this point he is uncertain who will lead the Utica Shale Academy next school year.

The board plans to meet at the end of the month to finalize appropriations, but the next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 10.