Moore County Director of Schools Chad Moorehead didn’t have to look very far to find his new principal for Lynchburg Elementary School.
Moorehead filled the position on Friday, hiring L.E.S. teacher Melissa Eslick to fill the vacancy left when Steve Green resigned last month to take a similar position in Georgia.
Eslick, who has taught both fourth and fifth grades at L.E.S., has been at the school since 2001. Both Moorehead and his new principal hope to finally bring some continuity to the elementary school’s main office.
“I just wanted something great for our school,” said Eslick. “I wanted that continuity. I just thought we needed someone who could have staying power … someone who would be invested in our community. That’s what I wanted for our school.”
Added Moorehead, “She obviously has the student as her No. 1 priority.”
Eslick represents the fourth principal at Lynchburg Elementary School in as many years. Her two predecessors each stayed just one year.
She replaces Green, who spent the 2013-14 school year at L.E.S. Green was hired last summer to replace Thomas Fuhrman, who had resigned after one year to take a similar position in Manchester.
When Green was hired, he topped 15 other applicants for the position, but the Alabama native never made Lynchburg his permanent home and eventually the 3-hour round-trip commute became too much of a burden. He resigned in June after accepting a similar position at a school in Georgia.
Prior to Green, Fuhrman held the position for just one year after taking over from Buddy Smith. Smith was at L.E.S. for four years — overseeing much of the school’s expansion project in the process — before taking the principal’s position at Moore County High School.
Before that, Danny Mooney served as the principal at L.E.S. for two years. Like Smith, Mooney moved to MCHS as the principal there. When he eventually took a position in the school system’s central office, the domino effect led to Smith moving to the high school and the revolving door in the L.E.S. principal’s office began to spin.
Moorehead, who has become all too familiar with the vetting process over the last three years, is confident that Eslick is the right person. He feels that while she will not only eliminate that carousel effect, she can also lead L.E.S. in the right direction.
“She has demonstrated for years now her ability in the classroom,” said Moorehead. “ She knows the strategies and knows how to lead her students. She has done multiple professional development for other school systems around us and those administrators have told me about her ability to lead.
“The idea that we are growing our own administrators is something that we are working toward. We have had several teachers go through that program at MTSU.”
As for Eslick, she has to quickly shift gears from teacher to administrator. She was preparing her classroom for another group of fifth-graders when opportunity knocked.
“We went this weekend and cleaned out 13 years’ worth of teaching stuff, so that was kind of hard,” said Eslick. “Tuesday (was) really my first day to get in there. I’m anxious to get the year started and to get a different feel for what the job is like on that side. It makes it a little bit easier for me because I have worked with everybody and I do know everybody.
“Knowing the faculty and the staff is a plus on my part. I can’t even imagine all these principals who have come in and didn’t know anybody.”
Within an hour of Moorehead’s decision, the news of Eslick’s hire was out via social media. She said she’s been shocked at the encouragement she’s received.
“I just want what’s best for our teachers, our students and for our community,” she added. “What has really gotten me through this is all the support from the community and, really, just from so many people that have come up to me to say congratulations.
“It’s very humbling, which really makes me want to do an even better job.”
Eslick is entering her 14th year at L.E.S. She has her Educational Specialist Degree and her license in Administration and Supervision from Middle Tennessee.
There were 12 applicants for the position. Of those 12, Moorehead interviewed eight. He then took it down to four and had a teacher and administrator panel watch video of those final four candidates.
Moorehead said that Eslick’s first official duty would be finding a new teacher for the fifth grade to replace her.