County school leaders shuffle

Jeremy Styron-News-Herald

As local seniors prepare to transition away from high school to college this summer, at least seven administrators in Loudon County Schools will work in new leadership roles in 2013-14, according to a recent announcement from Loudon County Schools.

While a handful of moves should be expected each year, Director of Schools Jason Vance said the numerous changes this year was not routine.

"I don't anticipate that we'll see many moves like this one the next few years," Vance said. "We'll always have a few moves here and there, but this is a larger number of moves to make in one year than you would typically see."

Mike Casteel, current principal at North Middle School, will take over head duties at Greenback School and replace Barbara Bradley.

Vance said Bradley submitted a letter of resignation and is pursuing other opportunities.

"I think she's done a great job," Vance said. "It's really been a positive attribute to Greenback School, and they've seen some really good growth under her leadership."

Officials are still investigating allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a female teacher at Greenback and a student. Vance said Blount County Sheriff's Office, which was investigating the charges, had not given him an update on the case.

"The detective's really not given me anything at all," Vance said. "I thought they would move quicker than this. I'm not saying they're not doing their job right, but in the past they have really been quick to jump out and make sure that they move forward. Seemingly it's been different in this past, and I'm not sure what the hang up with that is."

Another Greenback teacher, Angela Masingo, is on leave with the school district after being arrested in March on statutory rape and solicitation charges. She waived her right to a preliminary hearing earlier this month and will appear before a grand jury.

Vance said the most recent teacher allegation did not factor into Bradley's decision to retire.

"That had absolutely nothing to do with that transition," Vance said. "She and I have spoken, and she really felt like she had other opportunities she wanted to pursue, so she's leaving on good terms."

Bradley could not be reached for comment.

In tapping Casteel, Vance said the current North Middle principal will be an asset at Greenback.

"He'll help them continue with their academic pursuit of excellence," Vance said. "I also believe that he's just a rock solid administrator in the fact that he will help the teachers and teacher assistants, students and the community pull together and be a solid team and help move in a positive direction."

Casteel, who worked for five years as principal at Maryville High School and five years as an assistant principal, has served at North Middle for two years.

"The thing I'm most proud of is our teachers," Casteel said about his time at North Middle. "Our teachers have done a phenomenal job getting in the same boat together and started rowing together, and it's going to pay huge dividends for our students ..."

Casteel said he plans to establish shared leadership among teachers at Greenback, which was a strategy that he said paid dividends at North Middle.

"That's probably one of the things that our teachers here at North have valued the most, that they've been allowed to have a voice in all the decisions that we make here at North Middle School," Casteel said. "So, we will establish a school leadership team at Greenback where all teachers have input."

In other administrative moves, Matthew Tinker, current principal at Fort Loudoun Middle School, will take over at North Middle.

Fort Loudoun Middle vice principal Christie Amburn will lead the school next year. Vance described Amburn as a "great academic leader."

"She's all about helping stuents improve their ability sets, their skill sets, so academically, I think that she's a very strong leader. Because of that she'll help Fort Loudoun continue to move forward in a positive direction," Vance said.

Stephanie Smallen will be assistant principal at Loudon Elementary School, and Tonya Cope will be vice principal at Steekee Elementary.

Current Steekee principal Jeremy Lorenz will become assistant principal at Loudon High School, while LHS assistant principal Marvin Feezell will assume principal responsibilities at Steekee.

Vance touted Feezell's "common sense" approach to life.

"He's got an amazing way to be able to relate to people and connect to people, and I think the staff and the students and community as a whole are just going to embrace and appreciate the strategy that he helps them to implement to move from good to great," he said.