New principals named for BHS, BES

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, May 24, 2012

In an unexpected move, the new principals of Brookhaven High School and Brookhaven Elementary School were publicly presented Wednesday morning by Brookhaven School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya.

     David Martin, current assistant principal at North Pike Middle School, will take the reins at BHS. Janee’ Harrison, assistant principal at Lipsey Middle School, is slated to serve as principal at BES.

     Karmacharya presented the new principals Wednesday morning at an end-of-the-year ceremony held for Brookhaven School District staff.

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     Both new principals are natives of the area. Martin, 33, is a 1997 graduate of Bogue Chitto Attendance Center and Harrison, 40, a 1989 graduate of BHS.

     Harrison has deep ties with the Brookhaven School District. Her father, Willie “Doc” Harrison is a school board member and previously was assistant principal at BHS.

     Harrison credited her decision to pursue a career in education to her father.

     “I’ve always aspired to follow in daddy’s footsteps,” Harrison said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s so interesting to know I’m walking the path he walked.”

     Martin’s ties with the district are about to get much deeper. His wife, Jackie Martin, will soon replace the retiring Don Coleman as director of the Brookhaven Technical Center. Jackie Martin was hired about a month ago, before the BHS vacancy was even announced, David Martin said Wednesday afternoon.

     The Martins’ 7-year-old son, Eli, will also be entering the second grade and moving to the Brookhaven School District from North Pike.

     “We’re all three about to be in the same district,” David Martin said.

     The BHS principal’s post became vacant after Dr. Jay Smith resigned to accept the assistant superintendent position in the North Pike School District. At BES, Delores Gearing is retiring.

     Approximately eight candidates were interviewed for the two vacancies combined, Karmacharya said. She deemed Martin and Harrison “far and away” the top candidates for each position.

     “Both are natural leaders,” said Karmacharya. “They have a skill set that needs to be brought to the table.”

     Martin is completing five years as North Pike Middle School assistant principal. Before that, he taught middle school math and coached middle school football at North Pike.

     The middle school has about 800 students, Martin said.

     His passion for teaching was ignited through experiences as a tutor in college.

     “I love seeing that light come on for someone,” Martin said.

     Martin has remained a resident of Lincoln County while working in Pike County, and the prospect of working within his local community drew him to the BHS job.

     Martin graduated from Mississippi State University and has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Jackson State University.

     “I’m excited about moving back into the high school environment,” said Martin, who taught high school math in Crystal Springs before he moved to North Pike Middle School.

     While Martin is anticipating his move up to older students, Harrison relishes her upcoming post at the elementary school.

     “There’s something about working with younger kids that brings out the creativity,” she said.

     Harrison is completing one year as Lipsey Middle School’s assistant principal. Before that she spent three years as assistant principal at Greene County High School in Alabama.

     She’s not a new face to the Brookhaven School District, though. She taught English at BHS from 1994 until 1998.

     Harrison holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MSU. She’s currently pursuing a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Alabama.

     Aside from their status as Lincoln County natives and MSU alumni, Martin and Harrison have something else in common. They both attended college intending to become engineers.

     “I realized I liked the math part more than the engineering part,” Martin said, explaining his move to math education.

     For her part, Harrison decided she desired a profession where she could directly work with and help people.

     As of Wednesday, both were still adjusting to the news they’d received only that morning they’d been chosen as the district’s newest principals.

     Harrison sat behind her desk at Lipsey, laughing: “I’m still reeling.”

     Martin stood in the BHS auditorium, shaking the hands of teachers and staff eager to meet the new boss: “It’s been a whirlwind day.”