The Walton County School District hired four new principals for the 2020-2021 school year Tuesday night.

The Walton County Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Michael Youngblood at Atha Road Elementary School, Kimberly Lester at Harmony Elementary School, Alicia Burford at Walker Park Elementary School and Lindsey Allen at Walnut Grove High School in a virtual meeting held via online platform due to social distancing guidelines.

“I am excited to have these outstanding educators join our team of principals in leading our schools next year,” WCSD Superintendent Nathan Franklin said. “These individuals have demonstrated exceptional leadership as they have worked to support students, teachers and communities both in Walton and other counties. I am confident in their abilities to lead successful schools and cultivate positive school cultures.”  

Michael Youngblood, assistant principal at Youth Middle School, was selected to replace retiring principal Madenna Landers at Atha Road Elementary School.

Beginning his teaching career in 2003, Youngblood taught social studies for 10 years before transitioning into leadership as the lead administrator of an alternative school. In 2015, he began his tenure in Walton County as an assistant principal at Youth Middle School.

Youngblood holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree from Walden University and a specialist degree from Valdosta State University.

“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to join the staff at Atha Road Elementary,” Youngblood said. “I am eager to begin working with the current staff and stakeholders as we plan for the future successes of our students. As we navigate our lives through these uncharted waters, I encourage the staff and students of Atha Road Elementary to persevere and press on to finish the academic year on a positive note.”

Walker Park Elementary School’s assistant principal Kimberly Lester will be moving to Harmony Elementary School, replacing retiring principal Barbara Griffieth.

A veteran educator, Lester has over 20 years of experience in education with over 10 in administration. In addition to serving as both an assistant principal at the elementary and middle school levels, she has leadership experience in special education, assessment and accountability, curriculum and instruction, professional development, school safety and federal programs.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin, a master’s degree and administrative certification from Freed-Hardeman University as well as a specialist degree from the University of West Georgia.

“It is with great honor and excitement that I have accepted the opportunity to serve the Harmony Elementary School family as principal,” Lester said. “As an educator with 22 years of experience, I have always been committed to providing a positive learning environment for students, and I believe all students benefit from high expectations, high standards and mutual accountability from all. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the Harmony students, staff and community, and I am looking forward to supporting each Harmony Hawk in growing academically, socially, and emotionally.”    

Walton County School District special education coordinator Alicia Burford will be replacing principal Brian Hobbs at Walker Park Elementary School, who was recently named the new principal at Loganville Middle School.

A long-time Walton County educator, Burford began teaching special education at Loganville Middle School in 2003 before serving as the special education instructional specialist. In 2010, she began her career in administration as an assistant principal at Youth Middle School until transitioning into her current role in 2014.

Burford holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from North Georgia College & State University, a specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University and a doctorate from Georgia State University.

“I am truly humbled and honored to have been chosen to join Walker Park Elementary as the new principal. I believe that one of the most important aspects of my work will be to create meaningful relationships with the staff, students, and families,” Burford said. “Together as a school community, I look forward to building upon the traditions of the past and meeting the challenges of the future in innovative and exciting ways. I am delighted to become part of the Walker Park family.”

Lindsey Allen is an experienced educator and seasoned administrator who will be joining the Walton County community as the principal at Walnut Grove High School, replacing retiring principal Sean Callahan.

Beginning his career in 1998, Allen comes to Walton County with extensive experience in education and administration at both the school and district levels, having served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, hearing officer and executive officer of secondary schools in multiple counties.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia College & State University, a master’s degree from Brenau University and an educational leadership certificate from the University of Georgia.

“Walnut Grove High School is an extraordinary institution and I am honored to serve as the new principal,” Allen said. “My family and I are excited for the opportunity to join the Walton County School District and the Walnut Grove community. I can assure you that I share in this community’s belief in caring for your children each day while providing them with world-class experiences in academics, athletics, and the arts.”

The Walton County School District collected teacher and staff feedback from each school prior to utilizing hiring committees composed of district administrators and parents to select each candidate.

“We were once again very fortunate to have an impressive candidate pool for each of these position," Franklin said. "We place the utmost importance on the process of hiring leaders in our schools and understand the vital role that these individuals will play in the success of our students. We appreciate the members of our hiring committees who devoted hours of their time to help ensure that the candidates selected will best serve the unique needs of each school.”

The board also approved the hiring of three new assistant principals for the 2020-21 school year.

Walnut Grove Elementary School’s instructional coach Haley Herrick has been selected to serve as the assistant principal WGES, following Ken Cline’s promotion to principal.

Youth Middle School named Barrow County’s Hannah Croy and Clarke County’s Scott Moore to two open assistant principal slots, following the hiring of Beth Morgan and Michael Youngblood at Sharon Elementary School and Atha Road Elementary School, respectively.

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