5 new Fayette principals ready to get to work

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Will fill top spots at Booth Middle, Whitewater Middle, Minter Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary and Inman Elementary; Lane retires at McIntosh High — 

Six new principals will take the helm when schools open for the 2021-2022 school year. Five of them have been hired by the Fayette County Board of Education following an extensive search, and they are excited about meeting their new school communities.

<b>Stacie Coppola</b>
Stacie Coppola

Stacie Coppola, former assistant principal at Peachtree City Elementary, currently serving as the school system’s elementary virtual administrator, is the new principal at Sara Harp Minter. She will replace John Gibbas who is taking another job within the school system.

Coppola has 20 years of experience in elementary education, having worked as a teacher for school systems in Florida and Gwinnett County Public Schools before joining Fayette County Public Schools in 2015 as an assistant principal at Fayetteville Elementary School.

Coppola says that being hired as principal of Sara Harp Minter is “one of the best moments of my life. The staff is so amazing. I am very appreciative and honored.”

As for her new position as principal at Sara Harp Minter, she says she wants the community to know that “My goal is to continue the tradition of excellence at Sara Harp Minter, and I am committed to meeting the needs of our students while remaining cognizant of the value of effective communication with all stakeholders. My passion is teaching and learning, and I will support you as we ensure that every student is afforded quality education in a safe, supportive learning environment.”

<b>Debra Troutman</b>
Debra Troutman

Debra Troutman will replace Steve Green as principal of J.C. Booth Middle; Greene will become the school system’s new director of transportation next year.

Troutman has 35 years of experience. Her career began in Colorado as an elementary math teacher. She moved to Fayette County in 1990 and taught math at J.C. Booth Middle School for 11 years before moving out-of-state. She returned to the school system in 2015 as an assistant principal at Starr’s Mill High School. Three years later she was hired to her current position as the school system’s math curriculum coordinator.

Troutman visited the staff at J.C. Booth Middle following the announcement of her appointment as principal and said It felt like coming home, “I am very honored to be named the new Principal of J.C. Booth Middle School and excited to become a part of a school with persevering students, a dedicated staff, and a supportive school community. I hope to continue the legacy of excellence already established at J.C. Booth.”

Understanding that relationships between families and school are vital to student success, Troutman is encouraging parents to become involved “in every way possible,” and says that she is looking forward to meeting the school’s parents and stakeholders soon.

<b>Brian Butera</b>
Brian Butera

Brian Butera, coordinator of assessment and accountability for the school system, will be the new principal at Whitewater Middle School. He replaces Connie Baldwin who is retiring at the end of this school year.

Butera brings 20 years of educational experience, having worked his entire career in Fayette County Public Schools. He began his tenure at Whitewater Middle where he worked 11 years as a math, science and reading teacher before being promoted to assistant principal.

Like Troutman, being named principal of the school where his career started is a homecoming of sorts. “I am honored and humbled to lead an outstanding team of educators and support staff in creating learning opportunities for students at Whitewater Middle.”

“Whitewater has a rich tradition and history of excellence, and my goal is to build upon the great things already in place so that each child can reach his or her full potential and exceed in ways they never dreamed possible.”

<b<Chris Riecke</b>
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Chris Riecke, already a familiar face at Oak Grove Elementary as its assistant principal, has been promoted to principal of the school. He is replacing Dr. Felecia Spicer who is retiring at the end of this school year.

He has 15 years of experience in education, and has spent the last six serving as assistant principal at Oak Grove. Previously, he was an elementary teacher and instructional facilitator in Clayton County Public Schools.

Riecke says he is honored to be taking the helm next year, and is looking forward to serving the Oak Grove school community as principal. “I am excited to continue my leadership journey with the students and staff of this wonderful school.”

“As the leader, I want to continue to put children first in all decisions we make. I am readily available, and look forward to continuing my commitment to the Oak Grove Community.”

<b>Tabitha Walker</b>
Tabitha Walker

Tabitha Walker will take over as principal for Dr. Louis Robinson who is retiring at the end of this school year from Inman Elementary School.

Walker is coming from Carrollton City Schools where she currently serves as a fourth grade level assistant principal at Carrollton Upper Elementary School. She has 14 years of educational experience, with the last four as an assistant principal.

As to her new position, Walker says, “I am privileged to be named the principal of Inman Elementary. I am excited to build relationships within the school and community, and look forward to serving my new school family.”

Walker says her strengths are creative thinking, problem solving, strong long-range planning, the ability to communicate and listen, and the ability to build relationships with teachers, students, parents, and community members.

The Fayette County Board of Education approved the appointment of Chris Riecke as the new Oak Grove Elementary principal at the April 12 work session; the other principal appointments were approved at the board’s regular business meeting on April 26.

The board has one more principal appointment to make for McIntosh High School to replace Dr. Dan Lane who has announced his retirement.