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For a dozen years, students have been greeted by name at Centerfield Elementary by the smiling face of Principal Diane Morgan.
But now, after 27 years in education, Morgan is stepping down at the end of March.
“I feel I’ve done the very best work I can do for these kids and these families,” said Morgan, who oversaw a major renovation of the school last summer because she wanted to leave the building better than she found it.
“I feel like I’m leaving teachers and students with a really nice facility,” she said.
Although Centerfield’s overhaul is a visible mark of Morgan’s time at the school, her impact is felt throughout the Centerfield community.
“I’m proud that we have a kid-focused learning community,” she said. “And our staff is like a family.”
Morgan came to Oldham County at the urging of John Finch, the longtime principal of La Grange Elementary who retired last year.
The two were principals together in Carroll County, and Finch encouraged her to apply when the Centerfield position became available.
At the time, Morgan had been principal for six years before – but she said she still had a lot to learn.
Morgan welcomed the challenge. She describes herself as a lifelong learner who went to school until she was 50 years old.
“My whole career has been about growth,” she said. “The thing that made me grow as a principal were the high expectations.”
Oldham County Schools’ Superintendent Will Wells said Morgan will be greatly missed by her staff, students and colleagues.
“Diane is always a positive, energetic person who enthusiastically supports whatever is in the best interest of students,” Wells said. “She is a wonderful colleague who is always available to support her coworkers, teachers, staff and students.”
Elementary-level director Amy Cordrey said Morgan’s optimistic influence will always remain a part of the Centerfield community.
“Diane has brought positive energy throughout her leadership at Centerfield Elementary,” Cordrey said. “Her dedication to students is evident in her caring heart, warm smile and commitment to making decisions that are in the best interest of her students.”
Morgan’s last day is March 28 and Cathy Barnard will assume the role of interim principal while the school’s site-based decision-making council engages in the principal selection process.
Barnard was a teacher at Oldham County Middle School and principal of La Grange Elementary from 1988-98.
She served as principal of Anchorage Independent School from 1998-2008.
The Centerfield SBDM will complete required training for principal selection this month and will begin the selection process thereafter with the goal of making a recommendation by the end of the school year.
Morgan said she hopes the council looks for someone who understands Centerfield’s family-oriented culture.
“And I hope whoever comes in really takes time to get to know each individual staff member and all the families,” she said.
Morgan said she timed her departure so that the budget and teacher evaluations would be complete and her successor would have a chance to do all the staffing and get started on the next school year.
Morgan said she is sad to be leaving but excited about the future.
“Change is good. They’ll have new set of eyes in here.”
Morgan said she’s “not ready to sit in a rocking chair just yet.”
“I’ll still have my finger in the education pie,” she said.
She is also looking forward to spending time with her family, gardening and cooking.
Besides, she said, “it’s better to leave 10 years too early than 10 minutes too late.”
–Tracy Harris, Oldham County Schools