Principal makes plans for school

Jim Blaylock/Staff
Assistant principal Tom Smallwood (from left); Bill Ferguson, the school board's purchasing supervisor; and principal Don Putnam check office plans for Stallings Island Middle School. The school is set to open with about 535 pupils in August.

Don Putnam knew he would have a lot to do as principal of the new Stallings Island Middle School in December. But he might not have expected to find himself in the interior-decorating business.


With tape measures in hand, Mr. Putnam and his assistant principal, Tom Smallwood, recently met Bill Ferguson, the Columbia County Board of Education purchasing supervisor, at the school.

They studied blueprints, measured rooms and discussed furniture placement. They checked the design for the school's Red Hawks logo on the gymnasium floor.

The county's eighth middle school, which will relieve enrollments at Riverside and Lakeside middle schools, is set to open with about 535 pupils in August.

"I enjoy being able to put together the puzzle, but I don't have all the pieces yet," said Mr. Putnam, who currently is the principal at Riverside Middle.

He said he has visited the Blackstone Camp Road property about once a week since he was named principal. Construction is on schedule for the system's only two-story school, but Mr. Putnam said the biggest challenge will be having the building ready when school starts in August.

He said administrators hope to have a certificate of occupancy by the beginning of April. The principal said he hopes the cleanup will be finished by the end of May.

Anthony Wright, the school system's human resources executive director, said teachers have shown a lot of interest in transferring to Stallings Island.

"It's a new school. It's a very attractive school, and he's a very popular principal," he said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113,or


Stallings Island Middle School principal Don Putnam must complete a sizable "to do" list before August:

- Ordering equipment and furniture

- Hiring staff and faculty members

- Compiling a master schedule

- Forming the Parent Teacher Student Organization executive board

- Raising funds for athletic programs

- Finalizing the logo for Red Hawks school mascot