Four of the six schools in the Owen District will have new principals starting July 1

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Four schools in the Swannanoa Valley will have new principals next school year.

Buncombe County Schools announced June 2 that Owen Middle, Black Mountain Elementary, W.D. Williams Elementary and Community High School would be under different leadership.But the faces won’t be entirely unfamiliar.

Jim Lewis has been a teacher and administrator in the district for 21 years. He came to Owen High School in 1996 as the band director before becoming an assistant principal at the school in 2010. Next school year, he'll be at Owen Middle School, replacing Heidi Von Dohlen.

"I’m super excited about getting the position at Owen Middle,” said Lewis, who was recognized as the assistant principal of the year by the North Carolina Association of Educators in April of this year. “Having been here at the high school for a number of years gives me some insight into a number of issues that impact curriculum at the middle school level.”

The relationship between the middle and high schools is an important one, according to Lewis, who is no stranger to the nearby campus.

“We’ve been working with (OMS) for the last several years,” Lewis said. “N.C. Virtual Public School students are middle school students who take high school courses for credit. As the popularity of that program has increased we’ve made it a point to meet with (OMS) to discuss how this can benefit students.”

His experience at the high school has shown him that students from Owen Middle are usually ready for the rigors of high school.

“We get very prepared students, academically, from the middle school,” Lewis said. “We’ve worked with the middle school already on transitions from that level to high school and even some curricular alignment between middle and high school.”

Carrie Lynch’s transition into her new position as principal at W.D. Williams should be pretty smooth. She won’t even need to leave the building.

Lynch, who attended school in the Owen District as a child, was named the assistant principal at W.D. Williams in August 2016. Prior to that she taught the fourth grade at Black Mountain Elementary and then became an assistant principal at Ira B. Jones Elementary in the Asheville City School system.

“I’m invested in this community,” Lynch said. “This is my home, and because the Black Mountain and Swannanoa elementary schools meet at the middle school, I’ve always viewed this district as one big, happy place.”

Directly across Bee Tree Road from Lynch and her students at W.D. Williams, Community High School will welcome Janet Greenhoe, who is transitioning from her assistant principal position at T.C. Roberson High School. Greenhoe, who has been an assistant principal in Buncombe County, will replace the outgoing Jeff Conrad.

The retirement of Norm Bossert left the principal position open at the district's easternmost school, Black Mountain Elementary. The county needed to look no farther than a few blocks away to find Nicole Roberts, who has been the assistant principal at Black Mountain Primary since 2010 (she also served in the same role at Hominy Valley Elementary). She’s been in a dual role as assistant principal at Black Mountain Primary and Emma Elementary since 2011.

The kids in her new school will immediately recognize their new principal when they return.

"I'm very familiar with the kids, obviously," she said. "Having worked in the district for seven years I know the kids, their sibling, the PTO moms and everyone. The fit here is a natural one for me."

Her seven years of serving a dual role as an assistant principal has provided her with valuable experience and resources from which to draw upon.

“Mrs. (Malorie) McGinnis at the primary school and Mr. (Jeremy) Stowe at Emma couldn’t be any more different,” Roberts said of how her previous role helped prepare her for new position. “They’re both very successful, so it’s been a real opportunity to work with, and learn from, two totally different styles.”

McGinnis, along with Meg Turner, the principal at Owen High, are the only two principals in the district remaining in their respective positions. Much in the way the relationship between Lewis and Turner will help ease the transition for the middle school and high school, the same is true for McGinnis and Roberts.

"Ms. McGinnis and I have worked together for five years now," she said. "I think we're a great team and we both share a vision to bring the schools together."

Roberts, who lives on the western side of Buncombe County, believes that the community surrounding her current and future schools plays a big role in their success so far.

"I'm very happy about this move," she said. "Black Mountain is such a fabulous community."

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