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Heritage principal moves to new role

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By Todd Martin

Heritage Elementary Principal Cindy French is moving on, but she isn't going too far.

After four years, French will leave Heritage Elementary on Thursday, becoming the new Director of Elementary Schools for Shelby County Public Schools.

Her new position includes working with all the elementary school principals in the district and overseeing classroom instruction and leading student achievement consultants.

French said working with principals and teachers is a dream job. Having a hand in curriculum, instruction and professional development across a district is a way French can continue to have impact, but at a greater level.

However, she said it wasn't an easy choice to leave Heritage.

“There would be no other reason for me to leave Heritage. I love being principal here since these past four years have been the happiest in my professional career,” she said.

Superintendent James Neihof said he is excited for French's move up.

"Cindy has been a tremendous asset to Heritage Elementary as principal for four years and has been a valuable member of the district administrative team," he said in a press release. "She's a good team player yet is a natural-born leader."

French’s new position has her working with with principals than teachers. She will work with the elementary school principals on improvement and training plans. But she will also stay in touch with teachers by overseeing instruction in the classroom and leading the Student Achievement Consultants.

The goal, French said is close the achievement gap, and a big help toward that goal is databoards that schools use to track student progress and how it can be expanded.

“We must know the learning styles of each child and support them,” she said. “Having those cards for each student is a visual reminder of ‘what are we doing for that student?’ or is a celebratory moment when a child moves” from struggling to proficient.

She’ll also look for new ways to help students advance and “unlock the mysteries of learning.”

Neihof has already started the process of finding Heritage's new principal. He has met with the school's site-based decision-making council, which will oversee the search. The school’s SBDM council will begin open meetings today at 11 a.m. at central office for the principal search. They will follow with another meeting at Heritage on July 23.

Along with French's new position, the district also added a director of secondary principals. Kerry Fannin will take over that position, changing his job title to Assistant Superintendent/Director of Secondary Principals.