The Forsyth County school system has announced that two of its high schools will be under new leadership next year.
According to the system, Forsyth Central Principal Rudy Hampton is retiring at the end of this school year, as is West Forsyth Principal Betty Pope.
Heather Gordy, an assistant principal at Lambert High, will succeed Pope at West, while current West Assistant Principal Mitch Young has been tapped to take over at Central.
In making the announcement Tuesday, School Superintendent Buster Evans heralded the new administrators.
“We are really excited about both Mitch and Heather,” Evans said. “They’ve both got a number of years of experience in Forsyth County Schools, they have been at multiple schools as assistant principals, learning and participating in education leadership.”
Gordy taught AP U.S. history, American government and economics at Forsyth Central before serving as an assistant principal at both South Forsyth and Lambert high schools since 2007. She received her professional degrees from the University of Alabama and Kennesaw State University.
“I am delighted to be joining the West Forsyth community,” Gordy said. “It is an honor to become a part of a school with such a rich history of high expectations and academic achievement.”
Pope has been in education for nearly 45 years, the last 36 in Forsyth. After so long in the field, Pope said it’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but “it’s just the right time.”
“I want to take some time to enjoy my life while I can, while I still have the health to go and do,” she said. “I really enjoy what I do. I still enjoy the students, the challenges that you face each day in a high school environment, and ... what I think I’ll miss the most is the kids and getting to watch them and their activities and achievements and … the great staff that I’ve worked with.”
Pope helped open West in 2007, and has led the school since 2011. She said while it has expanded tremendously in enrollment, curriculum and rigor, there’s “still room to grow.”
She said she’s leaving the school in good hands with Gordy, who she previously worked with at South.
“She’s a great lady,” she said. “She was an excellent choice.”
Young has served as an assistant principal at West and Lambert since 2010. He began his career in Forsyth as a social studies teacher, AP coordinator and administrative assistant at West in 2007.
He has coaching and teaching experience in Gwinnett County and at the college level. He received his professional degrees from Florida State University and the University of Georgia.
Young said it would be tough to follow Hampton at Central “because he is beloved at that school and beloved in this county. It’s a little scary following someone that is loved like Rudy is.”
“Central … is really the pride of Cumming and Rudy has understood that, and he’s taken the great traditions and really built on those and has really taken the school to another level,” he said.
Young added that he’s looking forward to transitioning under Hampton and continuing his tradition of “honoring the past and still moving forward.”
“The opportunity to go to Central, it’s just such a unique place,” Young said. “They have so many cool programs that are going on there and it just really affords us an opportunity to plug into the community more than any other school.”
After 39 years in education, eight spent at Central, Hampton said it was a good time to transition. With all of the new evaluation systems, Common Core and new assessments, it was “going to take a commitment from someone to be here at least another four or five years for all of that to be done and done well.”
Hampton previously taught in his home state of Alabama, was a coach at Mississippi State University and spent time in Lumpkin County. But he said he’s found a home in Forsyth, where he plans to stay.
“I’m not sure what will be on the horizon as far as a next career, but I look forward to the next chapter,” he said. “I look forward to spending a lot more time with [my grandchildren] and our five children, our five boys.”