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New directors ready to “reintegrate into the community” | Local News

As Rodney Shields prepares to settle in with Anna Dodds as Whitfield County’s new superintendents of schools for 2024-2025, he looks back at the path each took to get there.

“It’s come full circle,” Shields said. “Years ago, we were teaching partners at Westside Middle School. We were a two-person team and taught eighth grade together.”

On Monday, Superintendent Mike Ewton said at the school board meeting that Shields, who is currently finishing his duties as assistant principal and athletic director at Northwest Whitfield High School, will be the new principal at New Hope Middle School.

Dodds, the current assistant principal at Westside Middle, will move up to the principal position.

Shields will replace Belinda Sloan, who will become the next principal of Coahulla Creek High School in the fall following Tracy Mardis’ retirement.

Dodds will follow Jonathan Schneider, who will also move to Coahulla Creek to become that school’s new assistant principal following the departure of Tony Crossen.

Ewton said Crossen will move to Northwest Whitfield High to become assistant principal and athletic director.

“I want to thank you all for stepping up,” Ewton said. “Congratulations.”

Dodds, who began teaching in Whitfield County in 2012, taught at Westside Middle for eight years before serving as assistant principal at Valley Point Middle School for three years. In 2023, Dodds returned to Westside Middle as assistant principal.

Dodds said she is grateful to continue serving the Westside Middle community.

“Westside has a proud history of high academic achievement, in and out of the classroom,” Dodds said. “I’m just thrilled to be principal of the school where I started teaching and where I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Putting that back into the community is really what I’m passionate about .”

Shields, who started as a teacher at Valley Point Middle School in 2006, said he is looking forward to taking on a new leadership role for the system at New Hope Middle.

“At Valley Point Middle, I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade for nine years, then I went to Westside Middle for two years, where I worked with Anna,” he said.

Shields was at New Hope Middle for four years as an assistant principal after leaving Westside Middle. He started at Northwest Whitfield High three years ago.

“I’ve been to New Hope (Middle) before, so I know the staff and the community,” Shields said.

Given that familiarity, Shields said his goal is to see the school continue to improve.

“I just want New Hope to remain a place where all kids feel like they belong,” he said. “A place where they feel safe to learn and where their achievements, whether academic, athletic or artistic, are celebrated. I want to see the school continue to grow academically and see our teachers continue to grow as well.