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Web posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Six schools are getting new principals

By Jenna Martin
Staff Writer, Twitter @JennaNMartin

When the new school year starts Aug. 8, new principals will greet pupils at six Columbia County schools. While most held administrative positions within the county in the past, they all have long career histories that led them to their current positions.


Columbia County Alternative School

After serving as the principal at Warren County High School for four years, Ja'net Bishop will return to the county as principal of the Columbia County Alternative School.

An educator for 15 years, Bishop started out as a counselor at Harlem Middle School and later at Harlem High.

Bishop also held two roles, counselor and assistant principal, at the alternative school, then called Crossroads Academy.

She became assistant principal at Evans High School before taking the top job at Warren County High.

Before entering the school system, Bishop was a child advocate and director of the Augusta Childhood Advocacy Center. She also was a finance officer with the National Guard.

"I just feel like things have come full circle with me being able to work with our young people here in the Columbia County school system to give them that last opportunity to salvage their education," said Bishop, a New York native.

Bishop said she was proud that she and her staff at Warren County High improved the school's graduation rate from 56 to 75 percent.

"Being future-focused and school-improvement driven, I hope to bring those same skills here to Columbia County."

At the county's alternative school, Bishop said she'll strive to reduce truancy, improve attitudes about school, help students continue with credits and limit behavior problems.


Blue Ridge Elementary School

Karen Fischer became well acquainted with Blue Ridge Elementary School last year when she was named assistant principal.

The position was designed to do just that for her when she replaced Jeff Collman as principal to start the 2011-12 school year.

Originally from Colo-rado, Fischer worked in higher education until 1998 before switching to grade school.

Shortly after moving to the county, she started teaching business at the alternative school and then Lakeside Middle School.

She served as Martinez Elementary School's assistant principal for five years before moving to Blue Ridge last year.

"When I went into administration, I really started focusing on elementary and middle," she said. "That's where you really can make more of a difference."

Fischer said she wants to continue giving pupils the skills they need to become successful at the "close-knit" school.

"If they know how to use the tools than they can achieve success no matter where they go," she said.


Baker Place Elementary School

While some may look at opening a new school as a daunting task, Leeann Fleischauer views it as a great opportunity.

"It's very exciting," she said of being the brand new school's first-year principal.

Fleischauer was the assistant principal of Cedar Ridge Elementary School since it opened in 2006. She first came to the county's school system as a second-grade teacher at Euchee Creek Elementary School in 1997, which was the school's second year.

Fleischauer was named the 2005 Columbia County Teacher of the Year.

In addition to academics, Fleischauer said she hopes to develop close relationships between pupils, parents, faculty, staff, business partners and herself.

"Our primary focus will be on student academics and just making this the best place that it can be for kids."


Riverside Middle School</p>

Parents and pupils at Riverside Middle School will see a familiar face as principal when classes resume.

Former assistant principal Yvette Foster-Williams was promoted to replace Chris Segraves as principal.

"We have a great family culture established already," she said. "I just want to continue that feeling, that culture of working together as a team."

Foster-Williams began teaching English at Glenn Hills High School in 1997. She taught at several Richmond County schools before coming to Columbia County as a behavioral intervention teacher.

She was assistant principal at Riverside Middle for four years.

Foster-Williams said she believes her familiarity with the school will prove beneficial for herself, administrators and faculty, as well as pupils and their parents. She looks to continue many of the same polices already implemented at the school.

"We've had an open-door policy since day one, and that's going to continue," she said.


Greenbrier High School

Chris Segraves looks forward to meeting the high expectations that have been set at Greenbrier High School.

"The bar has been set high," he said. "Therefore, you want to make sure that you meet and exceed those expectations."

Raised in North Caro-lina, Segraves entered the education field in 1980 as a P.E. teacher for Forest Hills Elementary School. He was assistant principal at Evans High School for seven years and was Riverside Middle School's principal for three years.

At Greenbrier, Segraves said it's important to keep moving the school forward and not fall behind.

"This is an incredible place," he said "The tradition of the academics, the athletics, everything that is involved here, is very rich."


Martinez Elementary School</p>

Wade White's theme for Martinez Elementary School this year is to build upon success.

"I'm real-ly looking for ways to even make improvements on the success that the school has currently benefited from," he said.

New to Columbia County's school system, White started teaching health and P.E. at Hephzibah High School in 1996. He was appointed to assistant principal there in 2002 and became principal at Hephzibah Middle School in 2009.

A Macon, Ga., native, White graduated from Georgia College and State University before relocating to Martinez in 1996.

"One of the things we were very successful at was motivating kids to learn and making sure that we reached all learners," White said of his time as principal at Hephzibah Middle. "That's one of the big keys, I think, for success at a school."

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