Newton High School will lose its leader at the end of this school year.
Joe Gheesling, head principal of Newton High since 2005, will leave Newton County to accept the principal position at North Hall High School in Hall County.
"I love our kids," Gheesling said. "I think our kids are really the best around, but an opportunity arose for me to be nearer my grandkids."
Gheesling and his wife, Vicki, assistant principal at East Newton Elementary, have two children and two grandchildren.
His family moved to Covington in 1967 when he was still in college. Immediately after graduating, he joined the Navy and served as a Navy pilot until 1994.
"After I retired from the Navy, I decided to pursue something I had always wanted to do, which was teach and coach football," Gheesling said.
Gheesling began teaching English in 1997 at Gulf Breeze High School in Pensacola, Fla., where he taught for three years before he came to Eastside High School as an English teacher.
In 2002, he accepted a position as an assistant principal at Newton High School.
"Fond memories I will take with me are of the kids," Gheesling said. "They're wonderful kids and they just touch my heart everyday, and I'll say working with them has really made me a better man."
Hall County Schools have a larger student enrollment than Newton County with 25,588 students in 33 schools.
While in 2007 North Hall High School did meet Adequate Yearly Progress mandated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, six Hall County schools did not meet AYP causing the entire system to fail.
During the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years Newton High did not meet AYP, but did meet AYP under Gheesling's direction as principal in the 2004 to 2007 school years.