New principals take over city schools
by Rory Doyle
May 15, 2013 | 2131 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland School District announced two major administrative hires at the board of trustees meeting on Monday.

Renee LaMastus, a fourth grade teacher at the Hayes Cooper Center for the past seven years, will be taking over for retiring principal Dr. Beverly Hardy.

"I'm just honored and grateful to continue to be a part of the great faculty and staff of the Hayes Cooper Center," said LaMastus. "Ms. Hardy has provided incredible leadership and taught me well to approach the task ahead."

LaMastus, a Cleveland native, received her bachelor's, master's and administrative certification from Delta State University. She is also nationally board certified.

She said she is looking forward to working with dedicated faculty and parents; something LaMastus said helps HCC stick out.

"Hayes Cooper Center wouldn't be what it is without the collaboration of excellent parents and teachers," LaMastus said.

She added detailed goals for her new role would be determined this summer but she will be greatly influenced by what she's learned from Hardy.

"I will continue to do what Ms. Hardy has established," she said. "She has built a great foundation for me.

"I'm excited for the challenge and hope to meet everyone's expectations. Every decision I make will be about the kids."

The other administrative change will be Sonya Swafford taking over Bell Academy next year.

She will be replacing Dr. Jerry Kitchings, who served as interim principal since December of 2012 after Dr. Lisa Fioranelli retired.

Swafford has 25 years of teaching experience and has worked at Bell since it was remodeled into a magnet school in 2009.

She spent the last two years as the school's curriculum coordinator and previously taught special needs three- and four-year-olds.

"I'm very excited for my new role," said Swafford. "I've been here since the beginning of Bell Academy to help set goals, and I'm ready to help lead and reach those goals."

Swafford said one of the biggest priorities is to continue improving the school's quality rating.

"We are working on systematic accountability — having everyone invested in the success of the school," she said.

She will also push to close the achievement gap and boost academic success for all students.

Kitchings said Swafford's years of experience will suit her well in the new position.

"I think she will do an excellent job and be very comfortable in this role," said Kitchings. "She has a great working relationship with the parents, boosters club and teachers.

"She will do a great job leading our outstanding staff."

Swafford is originally from Clarksdale and received her leadership and administration certification from The University of Mississippi Ole Miss. She attended Delta State University for undergrad.