Fort Mill Middle School started the new school year with a new principal. Also, Nation Ford High will have a new assistant principal when students return today.
Greg Norton was promoted from assistant principal to the top job at Fort Mill Middle after Dr. Tommy Schmolze left the district for Clover during the summer.
"He's stepping up from the assistant principal role and we're very excited about that one," Superintendent Dr. Keith Calicutt said.
Norton, an education veteran of 29 years, spent the last three as one of two assistant principals at Fort Mill Middle. Prior to that he spent 13 years as an assistant principal at the elementary and middle school level in Chester County. He taught for 13 years before becoming an administrator.
This is his first time in the top post at a school.
"I am excited to take over. We have a lot of things going on," Norton said.
The school is piloting a single gender education program for the school district this year. Overall, about 30 percent of the school's approximately 640 students will be taking single gender classes in the core subjects: math, science and English language arts. School officials surveyed parents last year to determine the level of interest in the program.
"We tried to meet most requests," Norton said. "There will be a lot of challenges with the single gender classes, especially since we've never done it before. The differences will be interesting to see."
Aside from the single gender classes, students and parents should see only minor changes in the school's direction from Schmolze's tenure, Norton said. He wants to continue building on the success of the last three years.
"The district overall, and Superintendent Dr. [Keith] Calicutt talks about this a lot, is a family," Norton said. "Even as it gets bigger and bigger it keeps that family atmosphere. It's the best place I've ever worked. You look forward to coming in each day."
New face at NFHS
School district officials reached across the Catawba River to bring Diana Smith to Nation Ford as an assistant principal. Smith had been director of guidance at South Pointe High School the last three years. Prior to that she worked in the guidance department at Rock Hill High and taught english before going into guidance. Smith has worked in education for the last 15 years.
"With the student population now over 1,300, we needed a new assistant principal to help manage it all," Nation Ford Principal Beverley Bowman said. "She helped open South Pointe High School, so we have her expertise opening a new high school as well."
Originally, Smith wanted to be an attorney. A family friend who was a lawyer advised her to major in English in college, and Smith's father suggested English education as a back up in case practicing law didn't work out.
"I knew when I did my student teaching that I wanted to be a teacher," Smith said.
Smith will be working with students whose last names fall in the middle of the alphabet, beginning with letters G to O. She will also help organize the school's first graduation ceremony this spring, and with ninth grade orientation and transition.
"I think the biggest challenge will be the learning curve, learning the culture of the school and ensuring I fit in with the culture," Smith said.