Harris takes on role as Waynesburg principal

Published 6:14 am Thursday, May 18, 2017

By Joshua Qualls

WAYNESBURG – Following an unexpected resignation at the beginning of March, Waynesburg Elementary has chosen Billy Harris as its new principal beginning July 1.

Former principal Leroy Boone thought he was healthy enough to take on the position when he began last year, but the stress was too much to bear after several years medical problems forced him to step down. Ronnie Deatherage has since been filling in as interim principal and Harris has been preparing for the role since he was named to the position May 1.

“He will do a fabulous job,” said Boone, who is feeling better as he’s back in the classroom teaching math at Lincoln County High School. “I’ve known Billy for quite some time, and he will be wonderful at Waynesburg. They will be very pleased.”

Harris, 49, has served as one of the assistant principals at the high school for the past six years, following nearly two decades as an educator in the district.

Before taking his current job, he spent two years as an academic performance specialist at the Lloyd B. McGuffey Sixth Grade Center. That role, in which he developed curriculum and assessments for faculty, groomed him for a future in school administration.

“There was a deep pool of highly qualified candidates that applied for this position,” Superintendent Michael Rowe said in a press release. “I am confident that we selected the right person.”

Harris has already begun to prepare for the transition, regularly meeting with staff and gradually taking on some responsibilities of his new role.

“There’s some good things in place at Waynesburg, but there’s some things we have to do … so that the school can move forward,” he said. “By the time I’m ready to retire and get out, I’d like to see Waynesburg as one of the top elementary schools in our district.”

Having scored overall low averages on state assessments, Waynesburg has had some academic trouble in recent years. Harris is determined to get it up to par for the benefit of the students, and plans to use other elementary schools in the district as models for success.

“All the other elementary principals … are really supportive,” he said, noting they have been sharing insights, offering guidance and suggesting effective programs while he has been trying to wrap things up at the high school. “If I don’t have to go in and reinvent the wheel, I don’t want to have to do that.”

Harris does not have a personal connection to the school, but he grew up in the county and received his primary education about seven miles down the road at Highland.

He finished his secondary education at the high school he currently serves, and graduated from nearby Eastern Kentucky University with both a bachelor’s degree in middle-level education and a master’s in instructional leadership.

LCHS Principal Michael Godbey has known Harris for a long time and thinks of him as a good friend.

“I consider Billy to be top-notch in quality,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge loss to Lincoln County High School, and it’s going to be a tremendous gain for the students and staff at Waynesburg Elementary School.”

Although his new job does not start until later in the summer and the new school year will not begin until Aug. 10, Harris expects to get an early start May 24 after fulfilling his duties the previous night at the high school’s graduation ceremony.