While Columbia County's school system has a new leader at the helm, several county schools will also have new leadership when the academic year begins.
With schools Superintendent Tommy Price formally appointed, the school board has approved several new principals and assistant principals.
Evans High School's new principal, Robert Waller, has settled into his office and plans to start meeting with students and parents soon. Dr. Waller was superintendent of Social Circle City Schools -- a school system with about 1,350 students -- before accepting the position at Evans.
"The school does a lot of good things," Dr. Waller said of Evans. "I've been pleased with what I've found being done with the curriculum."
Dr. Waller has been in education for 25 years and worked at Aquinas High School in Augusta from 1978 to 1983. He replaces former Evans principal Sandra Driscoll, who retired from her full-time administrative duties in favor of a half-time assistant principal's position at Harlem High School. At Harlem, Dr. Driscoll will oversee registration and school reform. Educators and administrators in half-time positions work at least four hours a day.
Westmont Elementary School's new principal, Sandra Black, has been busy during the summer getting used to her new surroundings. Dr. Black has been an assistant principal at Martinez Elementary for five years. School board members did not renew a principal's contract for Westmont's former principal, Wanda Richardson. Dr. Richardson will be handling recruitment for the school system's personnel department.
Dr. Black will see familiar faces at Westmont. She worked at the school for two years as a first-grade teacher when she first came to Columbia County's school system.
Dr. Black said she is excited about her new position.
"There's a wonderful staff at Martinez, and I hated to leave those good folks. But I'm looking forward to the new challenge," she said.
Michelle Sherman -- previously a teacher at Grovetown Elementary -- will fill Dr. Black's assistant principal's position at Martinez Elementary.
At Bel Air Elementary, pupils are already enjoying their new principal, Michael Doolittle -- or at least his name.
"I talked to a kid yesterday, and he asked me, `Dr. Doolittle, if I bring my cat or dog in, will you talk to them?"' Dr. Doolittle said. "It's going to be interesting."
Bel Air's former principal, Janice Blackledge, retired at the end of the 1998-99 school year. Dr. Doolittle comes to the school from Stevens Creek Elementary, where he served as assistant principal for eight years.
In Dr. Doolittle's place at Stevens Creek is Michelle Paschal, who has been a half-time assistant principal at Lakeside High School. Mrs. Paschal has been with Columbia County's school system for about 11 years, starting as a sixth-grade math and science teacher and then as a high school administrator for two years.
"I'm just real excited about being at Stevens Creek because it has such a good reputation," Mrs. Paschal said. "I've met lots of good people over there to work with."
Becky Barden will fill the half-time assistant principal's position vacated by Mrs. Paschal at Lakeside. Ms. Barden, who has been with Lakeside High for four years, will work as a half-time assistant principal and a half-time health and physical education instructor. Ms. Barden began her career with Columbia County in 1981 at Harlem High School.