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Florence 1 Schools announces executive appointments

Florence One Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley announced a round of executive appointments on Monday. These individuals are current employees of the district who will transition to new roles.

“After review of their historical impact in education and careful consideration, these individuals have been selected to assist with improving teaching and learning within our school district,” O’Malley wrote in a letter to all district staff. “Effective June 15th, these individuals will begin their journey in supporting you with the school improvement process.”

· April Leroy has been named the new principal at Moore Middle School

April Leroy

· Shand Josey has been named the new principal at South Florence High School

Shand Josey

· Jeffery Gaines has been named the new principal at Southside Middle School

Gaines

· Dr. Erick Figueras has been named the new Director of Arts & Innovative Programs

Erick Figueras

· Lisa Suggs has been named the new Director of Federal Programs

Lisa Suggs


Leroy has worked in Florence 1 Schools for two decades. She most recently served as the assistant principal at Sneed Middle School for two years. Leroy said that she is looking forward to leading Moore.

“Moore already has so many wonderful things going for it,” Leroy said. “I’m excited about the transition from intermediate to middle school. Students transitioning to middle school is uneasy for parents anyway but we are going to make it as smooth as possible. The principal at Sneed has done a great job mentoring me. He knew the first day that I walked in that my goal was to eventually become a principal. He has used every opportunity available to coach me, mentor me, train me, to get to this position. I have learned so much in two years.”

Josey has worked for 15 years in Florence 1 Schools. Her most recent position was as principal at Southside Middle School. Josey said that her time at Southside has given her a unique perspective as she transitions to South Florence.

“I have been at Southside one year but it really has given me a foundational viewpoint of how the Fine Arts Program in the high school starts in the middle school,” Josey said. “It has been great to be part of that building process in the middle school, to really see the potential that our students have. I think what I am most excited about is seeing the students flourish in high school and take advantage of the incredible opportunities the Arts Magnet Program has to offer at South Florence. We have an opportunity to take what is an already fantastic program and build it into a premier arts program based on the new facilities that we have with the tv studio and the new auditorium; I’m just really excited to take what is already there and make a name for ourselves, not just in Florence but throughout the state.”

Gaines has worked in Florence 1 Schools for a total of five years in a variety of roles, including director of bands and assistant principal. Most recently he served as the Director of Arts & Innovative Programs for the district. Gaines said that his experience as the head of the district’s arts program has been a wonderful learning experience and he looks forward to using what he’s learned to grow the arts program at Southside.

“It has always been one of my career aspirations to be a principal,” Gaines said. “After having spent a year leading the district arts programs and efforts, it is very exciting to be able to concentrate that into our arts middle school. I am very, very excited about the opportunity. This will also be a coming home of sorts because Southside is where I started teaching when I moved to Florence in 2011; I taught there for three years.”

Figueras has worked in Florence 1 Schools for 16 years. All sixteen of those years have been spent at South Florence High School teaching music, including chorus, music appreciation, and leading the Choraliers. Prior to teaching, he studied to be an opera singer and worked as a professional singer in New York. Figueras said that he is looking forward to being able to provide support for the wonderful educators and students in all Florence 1 arts programs.

“I am eager to ensure that all arts teachers continue to receive the resources and support they need to provide extraordinary instruction,” Figueras said. “I am also eager to work with teachers, administrators, and community leaders to create new and exciting opportunities for our arts students, while supporting the great traditions we are already proud of. Our arts teachers and students are among the finest in the nation. I plan on ensuring that the community is kept aware of and celebrates their accomplishments.” 

Suggs has been an educator for more than two decades, working in Florence 1 for a total of 22 years. Most recently she served as the assistant principal at South Florence High School for twelve years. Suggs said that she is excited to use her experience to be a support for staff at all Florence 1 schools.

“As assistant principal, I have many roles,” Suggs said. “In this position, I will be able to give this my full attention and make some improvements on the support side. There is a support piece that the schools need when they are bogged down with the day-to-day stuff. I want to be the person that bridges the gap for them. My heart is to support the people that support the kids. I also really enjoy learning new things and adding to my knowledge base. I feel like that just makes me a better educator.”