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Principals appointed to new Forsyth County elementary, middle school
Terri North- PGMS
Terri North. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

SOUTHWEST FORSYTH — While redistricting lines and school capacities may be at the forefront of residents’ minds in south Forsyth, those issues are irrelevant if the two new schools under construction have no one to run them.

Forsyth County Schools has appointed two veteran educators as principals for Brandywine Elementary and DeSana Middle, both of which are set to open next fall in southwest Forsyth.

Brandywine, the district’s 21st elementary school, will be headed by Todd Smith, who has been with the district for 12 of his 24 years as an educator.

According to Cindy Salloum, associate superintendent of school human resources and legal services for the district, Smith was a principal in Pennsylvania for three years before moving to Georgia.

“He secured his first position in our system in 2003 as a fourth-grade teacher at Sharon Elementary,” Salloum said. “The very next year, he was appointed as assistant principal of Midway Elementary.

“In 2006, he was named assistant principal at Settles Bridge Elementary. He was promoted to principal at Midway Elementary in 2007.”

In a letter to parents at Midway, Smith said he will finish this school year with “a continued passion, along with working on the details of opening Brandywine.”

“I receive so much joy each year getting to know the students on a personal level and see the growth that happens on a daily basis,” he wrote. “There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the faces of our [Midway] students light up as they enter our building and head to their classrooms to spend the day. That, I will surely miss.”

Over at DeSana, Terri North will take the helm. The appointment marks the third Forsyth school North has opened and her fourth new facility.

DeSana is the district’s 10th middle school.

North began as an educator in North Carolina in 1980 before teaching in Fulton County in 1983. During her time there, she was promoted to assistant principal in 1992 and to principal in 1996.

“She came to Forsyth County as principal of Otwell Middle School in 1997, where she assisted with relocating the school to their new facility,” Salloum said. “She also opened Riverwatch Middle and Piney Grove Middle schools. She has over 30 years of experience in education and is a veteran at opening successful schools.”

In a letter to Piney Grove parents, North said she will take “cherished memories of our times shared together” as she embarks on her new role.

“I have been especially honored to serve in a community that continually seeks excellence as its hallmark,” she wrote. “What an outstanding display of teamwork — from this inspiring faculty and staff to our awesome students to our ever-supportive parents to our generous community businesses — this entire venture has been in establishing Piney Grove and its high standard of excellence and watching it continue to grow to become the outstanding school that it is.”

In the current redistricting draft for DeSana, the focus has been on at least 10 subdivisions where parents have voiced displeasure at being moved from Piney Grove.

The new zoning maps for elementary and middle schools likely will be approved during the Nov. 19 school board meeting.

Brandywine and DeSana are being built between McFarland Parkway, Union Hill Road and Hwy. 9.

Denmark High School, the district’s sixth, will also be located in that area and is scheduled to open in fall 2018.

A next step will be to fill the pending principal vacancies at Midway and Piney Grove.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden and central office administrators will meet with the respective local school councils to solicit input on “characteristics and attributes” they believe a new principal should possess.

Qualified candidates will then be interviewed at the district office.