Four local principals will be leaving Newton County before the start of the 2009-2010 school year, leaving Eastside and Alcovy High School without principals as well as Veteran’s Memorial Middle School and Middle Ridge Elementary School.
David Easterday served as principal at AHS since the school’s opening in 2006. His retirement was announced at the monthly school board meeting Tuesday evening, though it was not unexpected by the board or Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley. Easterday’s contract had been renewed for the coming school year, but he informed Whatley around December that he had put his house on the market and if it sold, he would retire. His wife, a school nurse, retired last year as well.
He has been with Newton County since 1978 where he started at then, Newton County Comprehensive High School as a science teacher. In total, he has been in education for 32 years.
The Michigan native will close on a home in central Florida next week. He and his wife chose the area because he said they wanted to stay active. He plans on spending his time traveling, fishing, woodworking and with "playing golf and then playing some more golf."
He admitted that he would probably miss being in the schools for a while but imagined that it would fade with time.
"Being in a school, you come in contact with so many people – people you may not have the opportunity to come in contact with normally – and you learn from those people and from the experiences. I think that it has made me a better person. I have learned a lot and I hope that some people have been able to learn from me as well."
"Mr. Easterday has been a fixture in this district for the last 30 years," said Newton County School System Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Dennis L. Carpenter. "His efforts in the areas of teaching, coaching, and school leadership have positively impacted the lives of many children and families in this great community. We will miss Dave!"
Dr. Robert Daria has been with the NCSS his entire career, beginning at Cousins Middle School in 1994 where he taught science. He became principal at both Cousins and EHS and vacillated between each school, spending the last 12 years in administration.
He resigned his position effective July 1 to take a job as Assistant Superintendent of Walton County schools. Daria said that he is always looking to learn new things and take on new challenges, which made the move up in administration a good fit. Since his time at EHS, many of the students there have been accepted to Ivy League institutions, including two that were accepted to Harvard this year. EHS is often home to a finalist for Teacher of the Year as well.
"It is important to recognize the EHS family," he said. "It’s truly a family that I always enjoy being part of. The parents the students, and of course the faculty have made my tenure there incredible. All of the good things happening at EHS are all to be credited to them. They are the backbone of success and I will greatly miss all of them.
"I can say that I have honestly enjoyed every second of being a part of the NCSS. They have accepted me, grown with me, and have provide me with numerous opportunities. I have been fortunate to be a part of a caring community - one that takes pride in all that they do."
Veteran’s principal Eric Arena will be leaving to accept a position as Executive Director for School Improvement and Operations for Jones County schools. He has been principal at Veteran’s since 2006, and worked as a math teacher at Eastside High School and Sharp Middle School and assistant principal at Veteran’s before moving into that position.
Karen Crowder, principal at Middle Ridge will be heading to Addison Elementary School in Cobb County to take over as principal there. Crowder taught in that school system since 1976 before coming to Newton County in 2005.
"Anytime you have the overall level of administrative quality and competence that is present in the Newton County School system, there is the possibility that one or more of these great leaders will take advantage of opportunities to assume increased leadership roles in other school districts,’ said Carpenter of the resignations of three principals.
"When you combine this natural occurrence with a couple of key retirements, there is a lot of experience and a historical perspective associated with the operations of the district that must be replaced. At the same time, the district is confident with the plans and procedures that are in place to facilitate a smooth transition in each departing administrator’s area of responsibility, and we truly wish each of them the best in their new endeavors."