Four principals to leave NCSS

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System is losing two high school and two middle school principals this summer.

The Newton County Board of Education approved this month the retirement of Alcovy High School Principal David Easterday, effective July 1. The board members also approved the resignation of Eastside High School Principal Robert Daria, effective July 1; Veterans Memorial Middle School Principal Eric Arena; and Middle Ridge Elementary School Principal Karen Crowder, both effective June 22.

Easterday said he notified NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley that he would retire this year if he could sell his house - and he did.

Easterday said Wednesday that he will move to Florida upon his retirement.

"I plan to play a lot of golf, do a lot of fishing, and I may get a part-time job if I get bored," said Easterday, a native of Michigan.

He's been with NCSS since 1978, starting out as a science teacher at Newton County Comprehensive High School. During his time at NCSS, he also served as assistant principal at Cousins Middle and Newton High schools and principal at Newton High School. He moved to Alcovy High School when it opened in 2006. He's also coached football, basketball and ninth-grade baseball and started the softball program at NCCHS.

"I've done it all," he said.

He said he will miss Newton County, a place he calls home, as his family has lived here for many years and his two children attended schools in the county.

"Newton County has been good to me. I've had a lot of support, made a lot of friends and seen a lot of kids come and go," he said. "I can't say anything bad about it. This is home."

When Daria leaves his principal position at Eastside High School, he will move on to become assistant superintendent for Walton County Schools.

"This opportunity will provide me with a means to expand my educational goals and aspirations," he said Wednesday in an e-mail.

Daria has been with NCSS for 16 years, working at Cousins Middle School and then Eastside High School.

"Those reasons alone make it difficult to do, and I do so with reservation," he said about his years in NCSS. "Newton County will always be home to me, and I have been provided with an extended family I can never replace. The opportunities given and the faith they have in me has been incredible."

Arena has worked as a math teacher at Eastside High School and Sharp Middle School and as assistant principal at Veterans Memorial Middle, where he has served as principal since 2006. He will go to work as Executive Director for School Improvement and Operations for Jones County Schools on July 1.

"I will miss Newton County. Veterans is a wonderful place with a great staff, and it was a difficult decision for me, but it's the best one for me professionally," he said.

Arena's new employer said they were looking forward to having him on their staff.

"We are excited to add Mr. Arena as the newest member of the Jones County Central Office team," said Mike Newton, the Interim Superintendent for Jones County Schools. "Eric has a proven track record as a successful principal at Veteran's Memorial Middle School and brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of school leadership and operations to Jones County Schools"

Crowder did not return calls or e-mails as of press time Wednesday. Sherri Viniard, director of public relations at NCSS, said Crowder, who has only worked as principal of Middle Ridge Elementary while at NCSS, will accept a principal position at Addison Elementary in Cobb County, a system that she had taught in since 1976 before coming to NCSS in 2005.

NCSS has not yet named replacements for any of the principals, but officials have advertised for the positions on its Web site and www.teachgeorgia.org.