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UCPS to name top principal, assistant principal next week

Steve Wray, principal at Weddington Middle School, at left, and Kim Fisenne, formerly the assistant principal at Marvin Ridge High School, were last year's Union County Principal of the Year and the Union County Assistant Principal of the Year. They are pictured after being named last fall with UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis. (Fisenne is now principal at Central Academy of Technology and Arts.)

A total of six Union County Public Schools principals and four assistant principals are in the running for the top spot, an honor that has been a UCPS tradition for 21 years.

The finalists for Principal of the Year are Sam Basden (Porter Ridge High School), Brad Breedlove (Monroe High School), Dr. Mike Henderson (Wingate Elementary School) Dr. Kevin Plue (Forest Hills High School), Sherry Richardson (Rocky River Elementary), and Blaire Traywick (Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts (BHESA).

The four assistant principal finalists are Brian Gray (Parkwood High School), Dr. Brian Patience (Porter Ridge Middle), Kathleen Richert (Weddington Middle School) and Tracy Strickland (Piedmont High School).

The 10 were nominated by their peers. The two winners, to be chosen by a panel of judges made up of UCPS principals, will be announced during the Oct. 17, 2013, Principal of the Year Luncheon to be held at the Professional Development Center (PDC) on Brewer Drive.

It’s quite fitting that this event is held this month as the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) have declared October 2013 as National Principals Month.

The following are short bios on the six principal of the year candidates:

Sam Basden began his teaching career in 1990 as a PE teacher in New Bern. He moved to Charlotte in 1993 and served as teacher, coach and athletic director at Kennedy Middle School. He moved to Garner in 1997 to teacher at North Garner Middle School. He became an assistant principal at Oaklawn Elementary Magnet School in CMS in 2000, then moved to Independence High School the following year in the same role. His first principalship was at South Stanly Middle School in 2005, where he served two years. He started at Porter Ridge High School in 2007, where he remains today. He got a bachelor’s and master’s degree from East Carolina University and a master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He is currently in the doctorate program at UNC-Charlotte.

Brad Breedlove started his teaching career at Sun Valley High School in 1999. He taught for five years and became the Smaller Learning Communities Grant Coordinator in the fall of the 2004-2005 school year. In the fall of 2005, he became an assistant principal at Monroe High School where he served until the summer of 2007. That summer he was named principal at Weddington High School, where he remained until being named principal of Monroe High School for the 2012-2013 school year. He got his bachelor’s degree from Duke University, his master’s degree in educational leadership from Winthrop University and a master’s in education from DePaul University. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at UNC-Charlotte.

Dr. Mike Henderson started teaching in 1994 at Domasi CCAP Secondary School in Malawi, Africa, as a missionary. He also served as headmaster. He has taught adults with developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania; and elementary and middle school in Charlotte Mecklenburg. He was named assistant principal at Porter Ridge Elementary in 2004 and principal at Shiloh Elementary in 2006. In 2011 he was named principal at Wingate Elementary, where he remains today. He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Edinboro Univ. of Pennsylvania, got a master’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in school administration from UNC-Charlotte and his doctorate from Wingate University in 2011.

Dr. Kevin Plue began his teaching career in 1993 as a high school teacher at the Academy of Richmond County in Augusta, Ga. He taught at Brooks County High School in Quitman, Ga., from 1996 until 1998; at Meadowcreek High School in Norcross, Ga., from 1998 until 2001; and then Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte from 2001 until 2002. He became as assistant principal in 2002 at Wesley Chapel Elementary School and then moved into the principalship in 2005 at Union Elementary School in Wingate. He was the principal at East Union Middle School from 2007 until being assigned as principal at Forest Hills High school in 2012 where he remains today. He got his bachelor’s degree from Athens State University in Alabama, his master’s degree from UNC-Charlotte and his doctorate from Wingate Univeristy.

Sherry Richardson has worked with Union County Public Schools since 1996. She was born and raised in Union County and is a graduate of Parkwood High School. She attended Wingate University to pursue her degree in elementary education and then taught 10 years in elementary school. She was named principal of Indian Trail Elementary in 2006 and is beginning her fourth year as principal of Rocky River Elementary.

Blaire Traywick began her teaching career as a photography-arts teacher at Independence High School in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System in 1993. She came to Union County as a principal fellows intern at Sun Valley Middle School in 2000. She was offered a permanent assistant principal position at Sun Valley Middle School the following year. In 2006, she was promoted to principal of Sun Valley Middle School, where she remained until the summer of 2012 when she took over as principal of Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, a position she holds today. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1993 from UNC-Charlotte. In 2001, she completed her master’s of school administration with honors from UNC-Charlotte.

The following are short bios on the assistant principal of the year candidates:

Brian Gray started teaching at North Mecklenburg High School in 2001. He became an assistant principal in 2007 at Parkwood Middle School. This nationally board certified teacher became an assistant principal at Parkwood High School in the 2011. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree from NC State. He has a post-master’s certificate from Wingate University.

Dr. Brian Patience started his educational career as a sixth-grade teacher at Spaugh Middle school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He began his educational administration career as an assistant principal at Monroe High School in 2003. He has served in this same role at Porter Ridge Middle for the past seven years. He got his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Cortland, a master’s degree from UNC-C, a specialist in education degree from UNC-Greensboro and his doctorate from UNC-G.

Kathleen Richert started teaching in 1999 in Palm Beach County Florida. Seven years later (2006) she became an assistant principal at Porter Ridge High School. She became an assistant principal this year at Weddington Middle School. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine, a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and an educational specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University .

Tracy Strickland began teaching in Beaufort, S.C. in 1993. She has taught in South Carolina, Texas and North Carolina, but her last teaching role was at Parkwood High School. She moved into an administrative position in 2010 at East Union Middle School and then in 2011 at Forest Hills High School. In 2013, she became an assistant principal at Piedmont High School. She got an associate’s degree from North Greenville University, a bachelor’s degree (with a double major in Spanish and Psychology) from Charleston Southern University. She has a master’s degree from the UNC-Charlotte and is currently attending Liberty University working toward an educational specialist degree.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Oct 09, 2013 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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