A 25-year education veteran, George Meredith started his teaching career, even student teaching, at Caneyville Elementary. He fondly remembers all he learned and meeting “so many nice people” that it seems perfectly natural that he’s now come full circle as its newest principal. With ten years in elementary education before moving on to the middle and high school levels, and time spent as a principal in Ohio County, Meredith says it means a lot to be back where he started.
“This school is special. The community down here is so behind this school and it’s such a central part to this community. It’s different here,” he said, adding that “I got that feeling when I taught here before and I can feel it here now. You can just feel the pride even in the building itself. It’s so clean and well maintained. It looks brand new.”
Meredith also notes the school’s “good mix in staff” – those with experience, some new teachers, some young teachers, and their positive working relationships. “I think maybe as an old coach one of the strengths I had was the ability to bring people together and work well together. I hope to be able to do the same thing and keep that going here.” And, he says, “I want the community to feel welcome. They have been in the past and I want to maintain that.”
As with all educators, though, Meredith says the kids and their needs are the focus. “We’re going to love them all, and teach them all and hopefully make a difference. I just want to continue the good work down here. I hope to bring a lot of enthusiasm.”
With 17 ½ years in the classroom, all in special education and 14 of them as a Clarkson Redhawk, Brad Vincent is now a member of the lion pride of Lawler Elementary, and proud of it. “The reception has been great, I mean it’s been awesome,” he exudes. “From the staff, from the students from the community, parents – it’s an exciting time.”
“Good things are happening – there are a lot of great academic things going on here that I’m looking forward to just continuing and building on.” And Vincent gives a lot of credit to recently retired principal of nine years, Marcia Downs. “She’s done a great job of creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to student learning.”
Saying he’ll be very visible and involved with all aspects of the school, Vincent calls himself a bit of a “jack of all trades” from years spent collaborating in classrooms across grade levels and across curriculums. That kind of broad knowledge should translate well in all areas of Lawler life, including the Leader in Me program, which he notes lends itself perfectly to his background as an educator and Navy veteran, as well as his personal philosophies. “If you promote a positive arena for the kids to be in, it’s going to show in their production and the Leader in Me program does a great job of that.”
Most importantly, Vincent want to be visible to and fully engaged with Lawler students to create memories and to create opportunities “that kids will do something, buy into something, be willing to try something” that will have a positive impact on their futures.
Kerry Reeves is another education veteran who has come full circle in his career. As a Clarkson native and former Redhawk himself, he is excited – “to reconnect with children and children of children that I’ve either worked with or had that were in the old school and in the community”.
Making a difference in their children’s lives is the top reason Reeves wanted to come back to work and why Clarkson was such a terrific opportunity. “It’s been my home and my community all my life,” he said, calling it a natural fit and “the only job that I really gave any consideration whatsoever for coming out of retirement”.
An 18-year veteran of Hardin County Schools, Reeves spent 11 of those in the classroom, seven in administration. He retired two years ago, but serving last year as interim assistant principal at Vine Grove Elementary, “caused me to want to go back and do something full time. I wanted give back. When the opportunity came available at Clarkson it seemed like a fitting way to do that.”
As much as educating, Reeves says that “even when I was a custodian here I’ve felt a calling to be a role model for the children”, giving credit to the many coaches and teachers who mentored him when he himself was a student at Clarkson.
Describing himself as very hands-on, Reeves says he’s always meeting and greeting the kids in the hallway, throughout the day, and in the afternoon as they’re leaving with high fives or fist bumps. “It’s all about building relationships with those kids. When you sincerely care about them, they know that.”