Board of Education names new principals

Published 6:01 pm Friday, May 19, 2017

Decatur County School System Superintendent Tim Cochran made a long-anticipated announcement following Thursday’s Board of Education meeting. Three new principals will walk the halls of their respective schools this fall.

Roy Mathews will take the reigns of Bainbridge High School, Crycynthia Garder will fill the spot after Mathews at Hutto Middle School and Letitia Austin will lead Bainbridge Middle School.

“We had a lot of good candidates, but sadly you can only chose one,” said Cochran. “We’re confident in all of our choices.”

Cochran feels that Mathews is a good replacement for Howell. Mathews has spent

17 years in the school system, and was interviewed by Mr. Howell when he first started.

Being in house, Mathews will come into the job with an understanding of what is expected and how DCSS operates.

“I think when you groom your people and you have good people, I think that’s an advantage,” said Cochran. “It takes out the variable of having to get to know the community and the people.”

For Mathews, he will take this opportunity to build on what Howell began at BHS.

“The expectation is excellence in everything,” said Mathews. “We’ll continue to strive for that.”

Tommie Howell leaving left big shoes to fill at the high school, but John Wooden taking a new position leaves a big vacancy at Bainbridge Middle School. Austin will transition into the spot with 28 years of experience in the school system.

“It’s exciting. I feel like I have a supportive team,” said Austin. “We’re ready to get started.”

Austin will step into the role left by Wooden with a plan to get to work immediately.

“We’re going to forward the progress that is already being made at BMS,” said Austin. “I do have a vision for Bainbridge Middle, and we are prepared for it.”

Austin’s plan involves three main things at this point. She wants to build a shared leadership team to increase teaching capacity, innovate the scheduling, and team up with the 21-Century Program and get the right students in that program.

Cochran knew he would have to fill the spots at BHS and BMS, but having to find a third principal to replace Mathews at Hutto was a circumstance of the hire.

“I’m so humbled,” said Gardner. “When you’re surrounded by a great group of leaders, then you’re given the opportunity to lead in a different capacity it’s very humbling.”

Gardner has spent 15 years in the Decatur County School System, and she wants to keep up the tradition of excellence she has seen in her time.

“I have high expectations for myself and my team,” said Gardner. “Our whole goal is to help these children. Help them to be the very best they can be and give them every tool they can have to be successful.”