Berryville taps new principals at all schools: Powell moved up; Gilmore and Swofford transferred
BERRYVILLE -- The Berryville School Board named new principals for the high school and middle and elementary schools at its meeting on Monday, July 15.
Kelly Swofford was moved from the serving as the school's EAST Lab instructor to being the new elementary principal, replacing David Gilmore. Gilmore will now be the middle school principal. And the new high school principal will be Owen Powell.
"It is like a domino effect," said Leonda Davis, Berryville teacher. "When one position is filled it creates another opening, so someone else moves up to fill that and then someone moves to fill that and so on."
The previous high school principal, Randal Betts, resigned unexpectedly for unknown reasons on May 30. Since then the school board has looked at several candidates to fill the job. The middle school principal, Shelly Poage, recently resigned to accept a job with the Springdale School District and to be closer to family, according to her letter to Superintendent Randy Byrd.
Byrd recommended the candidates who were eventually chosen for the principal positions, he said.
John McClellan, middle school science teacher, will assume Powell's old position of assistant high school principal, transportation director and athletic director as per Byrd's recommendation.
"It is frankly a lot to keep up with all the resignations, hires and transfers," Byrd said.
He acknowledged that so far this year, the district already has seen as much turnover as it typically sees in a full year.
The new elementary school principal, Kelly Swofford, has lived in Carroll County his entire life and has approximately 20 years of teaching experience, including 14 as a teacher for Berryville and one as the Berryville Middle School principal. He spent four years as an assistant principal for Green Forest and also six years working for Carroll Electric.
"I laugh and tell people this is just my third tour of duty in Berryville," Swofford said. "But this time I am here to stay."
He earned his college degree from College of the Ozarks in Missouri and his Master's in Educational Administration from the University of Arkansas. His daughter is enrolled at the College of the Ozarks as well and he said that he could not be more proud.
"I just want to make sure I can meet the challenges of a growing school and the challenges of a school with our diverse background," Swofford said when asked about his plans for his new position.
Gilmore has been with Berryville schools for 12 years; seven years as a fifth-grade teacher, four as a fourth-grade teacher and one as the elementary principal. Gilmore graduated from the same college as Swofford.
"I pretty much went right into teaching right out of College of the Ozarks," Gilmore said. "I got my Master's and specialist degree from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo."
Gilmore grew up in Dallas, but moved to Eureka Springs when he was 13, which is where he graduated high school.
"I think the principal before me started a lot of good things," he said of his plans on the job. "We recently adopted the Common Core standard and started using new teacher evaluations. ... and that is a lot to take in for one year."
Powell has 10 years of coaching experience and eight years of experience in administration as the assistant high school principal and transportation director. In the last year he added athletics director to his title. He spent six years coaching for Berryville and four years at Monticello and White Hall, Ark.
He was born in Long Beach, Calif., and his family moved to Berryville when he was 6 years old.
"I have been here long enough to consider myself from Berryville though," he explained.
Powell graduated from Berryville High School in 1991, then attended University of Arkansas at Monticello where he graduated in 1996. Afterwards he received his Master's from Lindenwood, like Gilmore.
He said he wants to keep the school progressing in the direction it is headed and he appreciates the opportunity to be principal.
"As assistant principal I worked under two other principals," he said. "In the last two or three years I felt like I was ready to step up and take a leadership position."