By Jacob Brooks

The Cove Herald

Nearly half of the public schools in the Copperas Cove Independent School District will have a new principal this year, and school employees are working now to make sure schools are ready for the first day of classes later this month.

Five of the district's 11 schools will be led by a new head administrator when school begins Aug. 27. New principals at Copperas Cove High School, Crossroads High School and three elementary schools — J.L. Williams/Lovett Ledger, Clements/Hollie Parsons and Martin Walker — are getting their schools ready now for the beginning of a new school year.

Martin Walker Elementary

Amanda Crawley, the new principal at Martin Walker Elementary, said things are already busy on her campus.

"(We have) been doing a lot of preparation," she said. "Beginning to meet with teachers, just really looking forward to the school year."

Crawley was an assistant principal at Clements/Parsons Elementary during the past two years and has been in education for 12 years. She was a teacher at Copperas Cove Junior High, and also has experience teaching choir and reading at the junior high level in Arlington.

Martin Walker is currently the district's only state-designated "Exemplary" school, and Crawley said she intends to make sure the school keeps that rating.

Overall, Crawley said she is impressed with the entire Cove school district, which her own children also attend.

"It's an exciting school system," she said. "I'm proud to be a part of it."

Copperas Cove High School

Earl Parcell begins his first job as principal at a big school: Copperas Cove High.

Parcell is a former assistant principal of the school, but most recently worked in the district administration office as director of programs and college readiness.

Parcell, a former coach and teacher, said the school is expecting about 2,150 students this year, and enrollment has been steady with a slight increase over the past few years.

"We're not getting smaller," said Parcell, who is in his eighth year in education.

A big focus at the high school this year will be establishing proper "end of course" exams for freshman and sophomore classes, Parcell said. Juniors will continue to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams.

Overall, Parcell said Cove High has a great support staff, and he is looking forward to a successful school year.

"I'm excited about (the new opportunity) to say the least," Parcell said.

In the weeks preceding the start of school, Parcell and his staff have been working on schedules, making sure textbooks and other materials are ready to go and communicating with teachers.

"Tying up loose ends and making sure they go smooth for the students," Parcell said, adding he is very glad to be back as a Bulldawg.

Crossroads High School

Former teacher and coach Colby Blackwell is the new principal of Crossroads High School, which also includes the district's Disciplinary Alternate Education Program campus.

Blackwell served as an assistant principal at Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary for the past three years, and was a special education teacher and coach at S.C. Lee Junior High prior to that.

Crossroads High is for "at-risk" students. It serves as a second chance for students who, otherwise, might not graduate.

"It's especially designed to reach out to those kids," Blackwell said.

Crossroads is reserved for high school students; however, the disciplinary program is designed for students of any age.

While the number of students to attend the school will likely be less than a hundred, Blackwell said he is excited about the opportunity, which will be his first position as head principal.

"It's a campus with a blank canvas," he said.

J.L. Williams/ Lovett Ledger Elementary

Longtime educator Marla Sullivan will head up Williams/Ledger Elementary this school year, and she is making sure everything is good to go when classes begin with about 800 students.

"I have spent the entire summer meeting my grade chairs and teachers as they come in," she said.

Sullivan has been in education for 22 years, and she was most recently principal at Martin Walker Elementary. She also is a former assistant principal, and music and reading teacher.

Williams/Ledger will move to a "teaming" schedule this year for third through fifth grades. A teaming schedule involves students moving from one class to another, Sullivan said. Last year, it was just fifth graders who were on that schedule.

The teaming schedule "allows teachers to specialize" in subjects, which can help with standardized testing, Sullivan said.

The new principal said the atmosphere at Williams/Ledger is "exciting," and she is looking forward to building relationships with parents and the community in the coming school year.

Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary

Jimmy Shuck begins his 20th year in the Cove school district with a new title: principal at Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary.

Shuck, a former high school football coach and special education teacher, was principal at Crossroads High for the past four years. He also is a former associate principal at Copperas Cove High School and has spent his entire career in the Cove school district.

Clements/Parsons is expecting just over 1,000 students this year, which makes it the largest elementary school in the district. Two new assistant principals and a counselor will be at the school this year, too.

Shuck said the school will focus on providing "professional learning communities," a program that helps teachers plan and coordinate learning with parents.

"It helps them to grow as teachers," Shuck said.

The new principal said the school is finished filling all vacant positions, and is now finalizing a new campus handbook and preparing for registration and the beginning of the school year.

"We're very excited about the opportunity that we have," Shuck said. "We are looking forward to the school year."

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