McDuffie County now has two more reasons to be proud. In a press release from the State of Georgia, Governor Sonny Perdue and State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox announced the state's High Performance Principals that have overseen dramatic improvements in student achievement.
Thomson Middle School Principal Claude Powell and Norris Elementary Principal Steve Rhodes were both on the list of 112 principals selected across the state.
"It's just an honor to be chosen and the fact that we have two in McDuffie County is something we should all be proud of," Dr. Rhodes said. "And after having worked with Mr. Powell, he was certainly a role model for me. So, it's an honor to be named with him."
Before serving as principal at Norris Elementary for the past six years, Dr. Rhodes was the assistant principal in curriculum and instruction at Thomson Middle School for three years. Dr. Rhodes is the principal of the new Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School for the upcoming school year.
The High Performance Program was established by the 2006 General Assembly to recognize principals with proven records of improving student achievement.
Mr. Powell also was named a High Performance Principal last year. He and Dr. Rhodes both credit their school's success to the faculty and staff.
Mr. Powell said he has been in education for 37 years, with 13 of those being in administration. This was Dr. Rhodes' 13th year in education, with nine of those being in administration.
April of this year was a busy month for the Norris Elementary principal as he ended his service at NES to move to the junior high school, became the father of a new daughter with his wife, Mychele, and completed his defense on his dissertation for his doctorate.
Being awarded a high performance principal was even more significant at this time for Dr. Rhodes, because the dissertation he just defended was on the hiring practices of High Performance Principals in Georgia. He was on vacation at Hilton Head when his mother called to tell him about an article in the newspaper with his name as one of the honored principals.
"So it was a highlight to come back from vacation with that article," he said. "... And it was just kind of neat to be named a High Performance Principal after that was used as a portion of my dissertation."
Mr. Powell spent the first part of this week at a Georgia Association of Educational Leaders Conference in Jekyll Island, and was not available for comment by The Mirror's deadline. However, McDuffie Schools Superintendent Mark Petersen said he was proud to have two notable principals in his system.
"They do a great job and we're pleased that there is this recognition out there for our principals," Dr. Petersen said. "That's great for both of them and great for our boys and girls."