New principals are ready to take the reins of three Columbia County schools. Two previously were principals at other schools outside the area, and one has never taught anywhere other than the school she now will lead.
Euchee Creek Elementary School
All of Katy Yeargain's 15 years as an educator have been at Euchee Creek Elementary School.
Though an Evans resident, Yeargain grew up in Harlem, graduated from Harlem High School and still has ties to the area.
"I'm from the community, so that community means a lot to me," she said. "I care about the children there."
Yeargain started her career as a special needs teacher. She then spent a year as a fifth-grade teacher before accepting a promotion to assistant principal at Euchee Creek. Now, she'll replace retired Principal Wanda Golosky.
"We have a small school where we can really reach each kid at their individual level," Yeargain said. "We have a great group of teachers who want great things from their students. Why try and change that? If it's not broke, don't fix it."
A principal's primary responsibility, Yeargain said, is to create an environment conducive to learning.
"The main thing I'm going to focus on is doing what's best for the students," she said. "If you keep the children in mind and what's best for them, you can't go wrong."
Columbia Middle School
At age 35, Steven Cummings already has a long history as a school administrator.
Before accepting the job as Columbia Middle School's principal, replacing the retired Donna Anderson, Cummings was an assistant principal at Blue Ridge Elementary for three years. Before that, he was principal at Chester Middle School in Chester, S.C.
Cummings grew up in Augusta, receiving his bachelor's degree from Paine College before moving to Rock Hill, S.C., to earn a master's degree from Winthrop University.
A desire to start a family prompted him to move home.
"My wife and I wanted to have kids and we wanted to be near family to do that," he said.
After returning, Cummings took the best administrator's job available in Columbia County.
Now that he again is a principal, Cummings said he's excited that he likely will be the first principal of a new Columbia Middle.
During the recent primary election, voters approved a 1 percent sales tax and bond referendum that will supply funds to replace the aging school.
"That's going to be an extremely good thing for that school," he said. "We're very excited by that."
Cummings said construction workers should break ground on the new school in December, with an opening scheduled for August 2012.
Lakeside High School
After serving two years as the first principal of Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School, now a middle school, Steve Rhodes decided to take on a different challenge as the head administrator at Lakeside High School.
"The tremendous reputation that Lakeside has and the opportunities for me to grow and learn in a new school system" prompted his desire to move on, Rhodes said.
Rhodes, who replaced Jeff Carney after his promotion to assistant superintendent, said he intends to be out in the community.
"I really need to get to know the community, so I want to be visible and actively involved in all of the programs, whether it be academics during the school day or extracurricular activities after school," he said.
Rhodes grew up in Richmond County and graduated from Hephzibah High School. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Augusta State University and his doctorate from Georgia Southern University.
"I've had the wonderful opportunity of working at the elementary, middle and junior high school levels," Rhodes said. "Lakeside brings to me a new level of experience.
"I think I've really grown to appreciate working with older students and really value the opportunity to work with them."
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