Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
When Macon County teachers return to the classroom on Aug. 14, some schools will have a few new faces on the administration staff. Over the summer, retirements and resignations of school administrators facilitated the need for the school board to fill vacancies within the district. Four of the district’s 10 schools will have new administrators at the helm this fall.
East Franklin Elementary welcomes two new faces. Landon Holland was named principal after Principal Shirley Parks retired earlier this year. Sandra McMahan was named assistant principal, replacing lead teacher Becky Montgomery who resigned at the end of last school year.
“I am very humbled at the opportunity to serve the East Franklin community as principal,” said Holland. “I am looking forward to meeting all the students and learning their names.”
Holland comes to East Franklin from South Macon Elementary. Holland began teaching in 2000 when Union was still an elementary school. “I taught first grade there,” he said. “Then South Macon was opened and I continued to teach there. I taught there until 2010 when I transferred to Mountain View Intermediate. I taught there until 2014. I was assistant principal at Iotla Valley for 2015-2016. Then assistant principal at South Macon 2016-2017.”
McMahan’s career includes teaching experience in both kindergarten and first grades, beginning her career in Jackson County at Cullowhee Valley School. She worked as Lead Teacher at Blue Ridge School in Cashiers for one year before taking a leave of absence to start a literacy foundation called I Write My Story, which uses McMahan’s family band, the Mountain Faith Band, to take journals and a literacy program to encourage writing in school.
McMahan completed her administrative degree in August 2016 and has had the honor of working with New England Patriot Malcolm Mitchell and his reading foundation, Read With Malcolm.
“I am very excited about this school year,” said McMahan. “I look forward to serving the teachers at East Franklin and having a positive impact on students, faculty and staff.”
South Macon Elementary School will get a new assistant principal in Brooke Lequire Keener, who will replace Holland since his move to East Franklin.
“I have a family of three that I am crazy about. I am married to BJ Keener, he serves as the Macon County Ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service,” said Brooke Keener. “We have a four-year-old son, Rowen, who is our joy and constantly keeps us on our toes. In our down time we enjoy spending time with our Pine Grove Church family and hiking/camping when we get the chance. We count ourselves blessed to call these mountains home.”
Keener has seven years of teaching experience. She graduated from Western Carolina University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 2012 she earned a Master’s degree from Western Carolina University in Learning Disabilities and Comprehensive Special Education.
“From 2010 – 2015, I had the opportunity to serve students in the general education and special education setting in Macon County at East Franklin Elementary,” she said. “In 2015 I accepted an exciting position teaching 13-18 year olds at a federal behavioral health hospital in Cherokee. The position allowed me to serve Native American students from across the country during the time they were receiving substance abuse treatment. As the only teacher, I had the opportunity to work with many tribes and states to coordinate educational services. I was able to work locally with Southwestern Community College to obtain testing services with my GED-seeking students.”
In the fall of 2016, Keener became a part of the North Carolina School Executive Leadership Program at Western Carolina University. She will complete this program in December with a Post-Master’s Certificate in School Administration.
“I have had the privilege of being a student and a faculty member in the Macon County School System,” said Keener. “I am excited about the opportunity to extend my service beyond the walls of the classroom. I owe so much to the teachers that made investments in me professionally and personally. I hope this is a legacy that I will carry forward. Mrs. [Allison] Guynn is a phenomenal principal and I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to serve alongside her. I know there will be a learning curve but I am meeting it with enthusiasm. My goal for this year is to be a purposeful servant leader.”
Highlands School welcomes Stacey Overlin as the new assistant principal. Overlin will replace Jim Drahiem who retired this summer after serving Highlands for 10 years. A graduate of Annapolis, Overlin played football there and is a four-year Navy veteran. Overlin’s career in education started in the classroom where he served as a high school science teacher and football coach. Overlin also has administration experience, serving as a past assistant principal and most recently, a principal at Paducah Middle School in Kentucky.
Nantahala School will also see a new principal this year, as James Bryan is resigning from his post and a new principal will be named this week.
Macon County Schools Information:
Cartoogechaye Elementary School
Josh Lynch, Principal
East Franklin Elementary School
Landon Holland, Principal
Sandra McMahan, Assistant Principal
Iotla Valley Elementary School
Michelle Bell, Principal
Meghan Peck, Assistant Principal
South Macon Elementary School
Allison Guynn, Principal
Brooke Keener, Assistant Principal
Mountain View Intermediate School
Kristin Lynch, Principal
Nancy Breedlove, Assistant Principal
Macon Middle School
Scot Maslin, Principal
Cody Bryson, Assistant Principal
Franklin High School
Barry Woody, Principal
Vickie Sutton, Assistant Principal
Blair King, Assistant Principal
Macon Early College
Mark Sutton, Principal
Diane Cotton, Principal
Devon Deal, Assistant Principal
Brian Jetter, Principal
Stacey Overlin, Assistant Principal