Welcome, New Principals
Welcome, New Principals
Posted on 09/17/2018
A collage shows new principals Travis Collins, Melanie Ramsey, Heather Brookshire, David Robinson, and Anna Austin.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Schools welcomes several new principals to our schools this year!

TRAVIS COLLINS, ENKA INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL

Travis Collins had his “best first day ever” at Enka Intermediate School (EIS) last Monday.

Travis Collins helps students with classwork.“I’ve never seen a staff more ready to start school than what I encountered yesterday,” he said. “Everyone came here prepared, and they have also provided a lot of support for me as I settle in here.”

Collins brings 23 years of teaching and administrative experience to EIS. Most recently he was the principal of Tuscola High School in Waynesville, but he also has held the top job at the elementary and middle school levels.

Collins said the staff and students at EIS, as well as the surrounding community, have made him feel at home.

“This is the best school in the state,” he declared. “It’s exactly where I want to serve.”

Collins said the intermediate school age is a “pivotal time” in a child’s life. He wants his students to understand empathy, integrity, and self-control. Those traits build positive behavior and grow a child’s character.

“We want our children to live by these words: ‘who you are is important; what you do matters,’” Collins said.

DR. DAVID ROBINSON, VALLEY SPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL

Dr. David Robinson was impressed by his first week as principal of Valley Springs Middle School.

Students show a project to David Robinson. “This is a high-achieving school,” he said. “The students are well behaved and hard working. The faculty, staff, and the surrounding community are all very pleasant.”

Robinson, who most recently served as the principal of School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville, has experience as a teacher, administrator, and in the industrial sector in mechanical engineering and maintenance. His philosophy centers on building relationships with students.

“That’s a key component in engaging any student,” he said. “The student has to know that their educators care deeply about them.”

To that end, Robinson said Valley Springs has made great strides in the last several years by instilling in students a sense of high expectations, along with a focus on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

“Valley Springs has such a dedicated staff,” Robinson said. “The conversation is always on how we can get better at serving our students.”

ANNA AUSTIN, JOHNSTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Anna Austin wore a big smile as she sat down at the lunch table to help open milk cartons for kindergarteners at Johnston Elementary School during the first week of school.

Anna Austin stands in the Johnston Elementary School hallway with a group of students and several international flags.“This doesn’t even feel like a first week at a new place,” she said. “The students are happy to be here, and the people who work here really make me feel at home. I really look forward to working with them and helping our students grow and achieve.”

Austin, the new principal at Johnston, has 21 years of education experience, primarily in the Erwin District. She said she loves seeing the smiles on her students’ faces and knowing that even though they come from all over the world, they’re a family.

“This is a true community school,” she said. “I’m lucky to be a part of it.”

Austin is focused on supporting her classroom teachers so that they can support the students.

“And together we can show the community what’s so great about Johnston,” she said.

HEATHER BROOKSHIRE, MARTIN L. NESBITT JR. DISCOVERY ACADEMY

Heather Brookshire watches as students test a design project.Like her students, Martin L. Nesbitt Jr. Discovery Academy Principal Heather Brookshire chose to come to the STEM high school to pursue excellence.

“We have inventors and innovators and problem-solvers here,” she said. “They’re going to make a difference in the world.”

With 20 years of education experience, including 10 as an administrator, Brookshire is ready to take the helm. She praised the dedication of the students, with a near 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate, as well as her “staff of leaders,” who push students to do their best.

“We have pride here,” Brookshire said. “These students chose to be challenged, and we’re going to give them that.”

MELANIE RAMSEY, PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION PROGRAM

Caring and loving staff surrounded the students at Buncombe County Schools’ Progressive Education Program (PEP) as Melanie Ramsey, the new program director, visited classrooms during the first week of school.

Melanie Ramsey helps a student get onto the bus outside PEP.As she toured classrooms at Estes Elementary School and T.C. Roberson High School, Ramsey pointed out the various special services PEP provides students – speech-language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, services for vision and hearing impairment, as well as school psychological services and specialized gym equipment.

“The highly specialized staff at PEP work hard daily so our students are able to succeed academically, vocationally and socially,” Ramsey said. “Our students’ well-being and success are our top priorities, and I am honored to be a part of this wonderful program.”

The program, located at Estes, Roberson, and Valley Springs Middle School, is designed to remove the physical, social, and emotional barriers to learning. Skilled special education teachers and instructional assistants individualize classroom learning, and medical professionals provide support where needed.

PEP features adapted physical education in an on-site gymnasium and therapeutic pool; boys’ and girls’ scouting in high school; along with on- and off-site volunteer, intern, and job opportunities supervised by teachers and a fulltime job coach. Peer tutoring creates opportunities for PEP students and students at the host site to interact and learn from each other.

“We want our students to be exposed to a challenging curriculum as well as have opportunities to advance socially,” Ramsey said. “That is the goal of this program, to help our students realize their potential and achieve their greatest level of independence.”

Ramsey’s 24-year education career has spanned several areas. She has taught physical education, coached multiple sports, was the athletic director for three different schools, and drove a bus. She served as an assistant principal for Enka Middle and Erwin Middle, and then served as principal of Leicester Elementary and principal of Eblen Intermediate.

Ramsey said she feels “so lucky” to be chosen to lead PEP.

“I am very excited to be working with the outstanding staff and wonderful students at PEP,” she said. “It is a special place and it is an honor to be working here. I couldn't have asked for a better place to be.”

Item one on Ramsey’s agenda is taking time to get to know the staff and students and the current programs and procedures that are in place at PEP.

“It’s a very successful program, and we want to preserve what is working while at the same time improving what we can improve,” she said. “Together with the staff, we can focus on areas we feel can be updated or fine-tuned. We would also like to add additional opportunities for our students and staff in as many areas as possible.”

Find out more about PEP.
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