Broad River Elementary principal to return with new title, new supervisor

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMarch 31, 2012 

  • The Beaufort County School District is looking for principals at Port Royal Elementary and Beaufort High schools.
    Current Port Royal Elementary principal Jo Shirley accepted a principal job at Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary next year.
    The Beaufort High spot is open following former principal Dan Durbin's resignation for changing students' grades.
    School district human resources chief Jackie Rosswurm said both positions are being filed using the district's usual method of hiring principals.
    Applicants are screened by small committee of two principals and a school staff member. A short list is then interviewed by a panel of school teachers, parents, and students if the opening is for a high-school principal. After the interviews, further screening of candidates is conducted, including calling the applicants' current schools.
    Rosswurm said those interviews have already been conducted for the Port Royal Elementary job, and the panel has requested more information about some candidates.
    At Beaufort High, the panel is finalizing their list of desired characteristics for a principal. School improvement council chairman Brad Samuel said in an email Friday he sent a list to the district that day.
    Desired characteristics included: demonstrated ability to inspire community support of a school; prior experience in a high school that is of similar size and diversity; ability to attract, retain and manage effective teachers; and success in motivating students from a variety of backgrounds.
    Samuel said the first interviews were scheduled for April 10.

    - Rachel Heaton

The principal at Broad River Elementary School will be staying on next year following a district move to open the position as part of a "turn around" effort at the school.

But Constance Goodwine-Lewis, who has lead the school for about three years, won't be the head principal. Rather, she'll be a principal apprentice, school district human resources chief Jackie Rosswurm said.

Goodwine-Lewis will both report to new executive principal Melissa Sheppard and "work next to her," Rosswurm said.

Sheppard, who currently is an academic improvement officer in the district and coordinates world language programs, will oversee the school's staff and hiring, Rosswurm said. She will work with Goodwine-Lewis to further develop her leadership skills.

The district announced in December that the principal job would be open next year. At the time, district instructional services chief Sean Alford said concerns about student achievement prompted the district to open the position. Alford cited scores on Palmetto Assessment of State Standards and Measure of Academic Progress exams and annual state report card ratings.

"I'm not saying that the schools haven't grown," Alford said then. "I'm saying that the schools haven't grown at the same accelerated pace as others that are similar to them."

The same effort was planned for Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary School. That school's current principal, Mark Mansell, had already planned to move to Robert Smalls Middle School as an assistant principal next year.

At Shanklin, the district advertised the position and went through the normal hiring procedure, which includes interviews of applicants conducted by a panel of teachers, district staff and parents. Applicants were told to present plans on how they would boost student achievement at the school.

That process wasn't followed at Broad River.

Rosswurm said moving Sheppard into the executive principal position was a district-level decision.

"Whenever there's a concern in terms of what is happening at a school academically, it's up to the district administration and the (Board of Education) to determine what would be a good way to resolve that," Rosswurm said.

She said there was not one specific reason that prompted the district not to follow the usual method of filling a principal position.

"We did know Ms. Lewis was very interested in becoming a strong principal, and we thought this was the way to do it," Rosswurm said.

An attempt to reach Goodwine-Lewis was unsuccessful.

The school's school improvement council chairwoman, Jenni Jessup, said not following the usual protocol "isn't right."

Jessup and other parents firmly opposed removing Goodwine-Lewis. Shortly after the announcement that Goodwine-Lewis would have to re-apply for her job, Jessup and other parents called a parent meeting. They presented a different interpretation of students' assessment scores. They also spoke out at a December school board meeting.

"I think when (the district) came out in December and said our school was as bad as they made it sound, they thought we would say, 'OK,' and we didn't," Jessup said. "I think this was an attempt to make us happy, but it's not what we would have wanted."

Rosswurm said the district approached Sheppard about taking the job. She's a good fit for the position, Rosswurm said.

Sheppard has been the principal at Broad River before. She served in that role about 2002.

She's also worked extensively with the district's world language programs. Broad River has a Chinese immersion program and will be adding a Spanish immersion program next year.

The school will be larger next year because Shell Point Elementary students join its ranks. Rosswurm said she thinks Broad River is growing by about a third

Sheppard will be the executive principal and Goodwine-Lewis a principal apprentice for a year or two, Rosswurm said, depending on student test scores.

"Our goal is to have Broad River -- with this increase in students -- be a strong school academically," Rosswurm said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at

Related content:

Two district principals would have to reapply to keep their jobs next year; Dec. 9, 2011

Some Broad River parents say principal should keep her job; Dec. 12, 2011

Port Royal Elementary principal will move to Shanklin Elementary next year; Feb. 27, 2012

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