Florence 1 announces AP, Principal of the Year
On September 20th, Dr. Richard O’Malley, Superintendent of Florence 1 Schools, announced the winners of the Assistant Principal and Principal of the Year award. Marci Gatewood, Assistant Principal of Royall Elementary School, has been named the Florence 1 Schools 2023-2024 Assistant Principal of the Year.
April Leroy, Principal of John W. Moore Middle School, has been named the Florence 1 Schools 2023- 2024 Principal of the Year.
Nominated for this recognition by a group of her peers, including fellow assistant principals and school administrators in Florence 1 Schools, Assistant Principal Gatewood has served in Florence 1 Schools since the year 2005.
“Ms. Gatewood is truly deserving of this recognition as the Florence 1 Schools Assistant Principal of the Year,” said Royall Elementary Principal Julie Smith. “From the day she began teaching first grade at Royall until today, she has consistently modeled a passion for excellence that is unequaled. While possessing the proven knowledge and talents of a successful leader, Ms. Gatewood’s contributions to our school and to our district go far beyond these qualities.” Smith further remarked, “Leading by example, Ms. Gatewood has achieved her vision of inspiring and supporting others to become the best that they can be. She has consistently challenged herself and all those with whom she works to believe in the dream that all children are gifts to us and should be supported, challenged and loved.”
Royall Elementary fourth grade teacher Catherine Denny said, “Marci Gatewood is truly the epitome of greatness. She’s a wonderful example of a caring leader. She has been a mother to hundreds and an example for all. You will not find a more caring, genuine example of a wonderful human being. I hope to be just like her when I grow up!”
“Ms. Gatewood is a strong instructional leader at Royall, and her leadership helps to impact the success of student achievement of the students at Royall Elementary,” said Michelle Wynn, Assistant Superintendent for K-5 Instruction. “Marci is deserving of this recognition,” she added.
Amidst Royall Elementary students and staff, Dr. O’Malley congratulated Gatewood for receipt of this honor. He presented a check to the school for $5,000 to further enhance school programs at Royall. He also announced that Assistant Principal Gatewood will now vie for the title of South Carolina Assistant Principal of the Year through the South Carolina School Administrators’ Principal of the Year awards program.
“Ms. Gatewood truly exemplifies our school’s motto! She has had a proud past and she certainly has a very bright future!” said Principal Smith.
Nominated for this recognition by a group of her peers, including fellow principals and school administrators in Florence 1 Schools, Principal Leroy has served in Florence 1 Schools since 2000 where her career path began as a teacher at Savannah Grove Elementary School; elementary curriculum coordinator at Savannah Grove; assistant principal at Sneed Middle; and as principal atJohn W. Moore since 2020. Under Leroy’s leadership John W. Moore Middle was designated last year as a South Carolina Palmetto’s Finest School by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA).
Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, Gregory Hall, indicated that Ms.Leroy is an exceptional leader. “Over the last few years, Principal Leroy has championed the transition to the middle school concept and has led the students, staff, and community of John W.Moore Middle School continually forward,” said Hall.
“Student achievement continues to improve and the accolades continue to be awarded including Palmetto’s Finest and the Blue-Ribbon Schools of Excellence Lighthouse award,” Hall added. “The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) initiative under her leadership has provided robust experiences and opportunities for all students at Moore Middle and has created a trajectory for success for all Moore Lions. We are very proud of Ms. Leroy and her leadership.”
Other comments regarding Leroy’s leadership have come from members of the John W. Moore faculty and staff. Susan Lane, Media Specialist at John W. Moore, said, “April Leroy genuinely cares about the well-being of her students both academically and personally. She is constantly thinking about how to improve our procedures and processes to ensure their success.”
School Curriculum Technology Coordinator Brittany Bennett, remarked, “The time, effort, and dedication Ms. Leroy pours into our students daily is invaluable. Ms. Leroy sets high expectations for students and what makes this special is the voice students have in setting those expectations. We are so excited for her to receive this well-deserved recognition! At Moore, we are Lion Proud! Lion Strong!”
“Ms. Leroy is a representative of a school and district that strives for excellence. She has built a culture at Moore Middle School that is safe, engaging, and innovative for students and staff. We have had the opportunity to work side-by-side for years, and it has been an honor to see her emerge from an incredible classroom teacher to an extraordinary school leader,” said Moore’s STEAM Coach Dr. Haley Taylor. Added Lane, “The Florence 1 School motto of STUDENTS FIRST! is exemplified in her every action. Ms. Leroy sets high goals and then guides us all, students and staff, in meeting those goals. She takes compliments as a challenge to do more and to do it better, so this award will spark her to make Moore an even better place.”
Amidst Moore Middle students and staff, Dr. O’Malley congratulated Leroy for receipt of this honor. He also presented a check to the school for $10,000 to further enhance school programs at Moore. Dr. O’Malley also announced that Principal Leroy will now vie for the title of South Carolina Principal of the Year through the South Carolina School Administrators’ Principal of the Year awards program.