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Middle-of-the-Year Moves

Principals Relocate Midst School Year

Despite the fact the end of the school year is months away, three elementary schools will receive new principals this week.

Sterling, Sully and Dominion Trail elementary schools will welcome new faces to their principals offices.

Michele Freeman has been busy packing up her office and tying up loose ends at Sterling Elementary School. The former principal will move to the fifth floor of the Administration Building in Ashburn this week to help start up Rosa Lee Carter Elementary School, scheduled to open this fall. New York-native Teri Finn will replace Freeman at the Sterling school.

Neighbor-school Sully Elementary School said goodbye to former principal Clark Bowers, and said hello to Timothy Martino, who served as assistant principal at Forest Grove Elementary School. Bowers will open Arcola Elementary School this fall.

At Dominion Trail Elementary School, students said goodbye to former principal Sharon Keegan-Coppels, and hello to familiar face, Susan Mabee, the former assistant principal there. Keegan-Coppels will open Sycolin Creek Elementary School next school year.

WAYDE BYARD, spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools, said the decision to introduce new principals to elementary school students mid-year was a necessary one.

Freeman, Bowers and Keegan-Coppels will relocate to the fifth floor of the Administration Building in Ashburn for the remainder of the year, to hire staff and order school supplies.

"It's a solid six-month process," he said.

Byard said the new principals who will take Freeman, Bowers and Keegan-Coppel's places, are seasoned leaders, and some, like Martino and Mabee, are familiar faces to the community.

"We have veteran principals moving to new schools," he said.

As for Dominion Trail, Mabee "knows the land very well," Byard said. "We have an assistant principal moving to Sully and a veteran assistant principal helping Ms. Freeman."

Martino will take Freeman’s place this week.

SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) said he is confident Mabee's transition to principal will be a smooth one.

Ohneiser said Mabee's familiar face will make the transition process easier.

"She's a long-time resident, a well-known volunteer within the Broad Run High School system," he said. "She was promoted to a role she is clearly capable of handling. I am 1,000 percent behind Ms. Mabee."

While Ohneiser is confident in Mabee's abilities, he said the situation at Dominion Trail is much different than that of the two Sterling schools.

"It is an issue, but it's not one for Dominion Trail," he said. "That's not the same as somebody just showing up in the middle of the year. There's a risk of breakage."

STERLING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PTA president Steven Taylor attended a farewell assembly for Freeman Tuesday afternoon.

"Everybody was real upbeat and positive," he said.

Taylor, who met Finn several weeks ago, said he was surprised by the lack of concern from parents about Freeman’s mid-year move.

"I think we can chalk it up to the great teachers we have here," he said. "Ms. Freeman has already laid the ground work for the year. There’s no stopping the train now."

Taylor added that Freeman joined the Sterling Elementary School team mid-year, five years ago.

"I guess it’s standard practice," he said.

Sully Elementary School co-president PTA Becky King said she is not sure what to think of the mid-year move.

"A couple of moms mentioned some concern," she said, "but from what I understand Martino is a strong leader and will be able to pull everybody together."

"Kids are pretty resilient," Taylor said.