Mark Christopher, a teacher's son who has spent his entire educational career in Decatur City Schools, is returning to a familiar place.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the school board transferred Christopher from assistant principal at Decatur High to principal at Chestnut Grove Elementary.

“I was a third grade student here when the school opened,” said Christopher, who was one of 44 to apply for the position.

He replaces Luke Bergeson, who moved to Decatur Middle as principal. Christopher's annual pay will be $88,917.

“When Mark became an assistant principal, I knew he wouldn’t be in this position long,” Decatur High Principal Johnny Berry said, adding that Christopher is a “great educator and will do a good job” at Chestnut Grove.

Christopher, a 2000 Austin High graduate, was a math and Advanced Placement calculus teacher before being named counselor and building test coordinator for Decatur High. In 2017, he was promoted to assistant principal.

In 2015, Christopher was the districtwide secondary teacher of the year. 

He said his first challenge at Chestnut Grove is to get to know the faculty, parents and students and figure out what improvements need to be made at the school.

“I know it’s a good school and we’re going to grow on what’s happening,” Christopher said.

In other administrative moves, the board transferred Aubrey Shields from gifted teacher to assistant principal at Decatur Middle; hired Chassity Smith as assistant principal at Decatur Middle; and promoted Calandra Sales from math teacher to assistant principal at Decatur High.

Smith, 41, is coming from Huntsville City Schools, where she worked as a curriculum specialist, and will make $72,783 per year. Shields, 28, is starting her second year at Decatur Middle and her annual pay will be $80,162.

DCS hired Sales in the spring as a math teacher, but Berry said she has administrative experience and has dealt with curriculum, something that is needed with Christopher moving to Chestnut Grove.

Sales, who moved back to the Huntsville area from Memphis, is occupying the position Mary Hillis held. Sales will make $89,585 per year. Hillis transferred to the Career Academies of Decatur.

Berry said he would post the vacant Decatur High assistant principal's position immediately and start interviewing “as soon as possible.”

The school board approved the following personnel matters during a special meeting Tuesday:




• Austin High: Jake Miles, head basketball coach/teacher; Jacob L. Siefert, social science teacher.

• Austinville: Stacie Nicole Olinger, teacher in residence.

• Banks-Caddell: Stacy Ann Breuers, fifth grade teacher.

• Decatur High: David C. Minta, JROTC Instructor.

• Decatur High Developmental: Karen P. Alexander, teacher (retirement)

• Decatur Middle: Kathryn Allison Taylor, math teacher.

• Woodmeade: Sarah Lee Williams, Pre-K teacher; Sophia Louise Graves, third grade teacher



• Austin Junior High: Rachel Chaparro, teen connections; and Tyler Skinner, chorus/drama teacher.

• Austin Middle: Olivia Bishop, reading teacher; and Misty Kudlas, technology/green power.

• Banks-Caddell: Margery Slinn, fifth grade teacher

• Chestnut Grove: Julie Rodgers, library media specialist.

• Decatur High: Katherine Helms, secondary English-Language Arts teacher; Alyssa Cerge, counselor.

• Decatur Middle: Aubrey Leigh Shields, assistant principal; Chassity Smith, assistant principal; Darren James, mass media teacher; Dion Lucas, seventh grade math teacher.

• Eastwood: Sylvia Haygood, fifth grade teacher; Carol Irvine, kindergarten teacher; Taylor Foutz, third grade teacher.

• Oak Park Elementary: Kristi Clark, pre-K teacher.

• Special Services: Allie Kathryn Crook, special education teacher; Erin Roberts, special ed. teacher.

• Walter Jackson: Bethany Moyers Springer, counselor; Mollie Flanagan, fifth grade teacher.


Change of contract

• Austin Junior High: Erin Taylor Newsom, from Schedule A1, Rank BS, Step 0 to Schedule A1, Rank BS.

• Decatur High: Bonnie Lee Hurst, from Schedule A2, Rank BS to Schedule A2, Rank MA; and Prentice Devaughn Thomas – from Schedule A1, Rank BS to Schedule A1, Rank MA.



• Chestnut Grove: Amy Nixon Jackson, from kindergarten teacher at Chestnut Grove to first grade teacher at Oak Park Elementary effective 2019-2020 school year; Jessica D. Shipley, from library media specialist at Chestnut Grove to library media specialist at Decatur Middle effective 2019-2020 school year.

• Decatur High: Mark B. Christopher, from assistant principal at Decatur High to principal at Chestnut Grove, Schedule B6, Rank Ed.S./AA, Step 3; Calandra Sales, from math teacher at Decatur High to assistant principal at Decatur High, Schedule E2, Rank ID, Step 1.

• Oak Park Elementary: Ronnie Tyler Wood, from fourth grade teacher at Oak Park Elementary to fifth grade teacher at Banks-Caddell effective 2019-2020 school year.

• Special Services: Shelia Joy Burks, from special services at Banks-Caddell to special services at CAP effective 2019-2020 school year.

• West Decatur: Verlene M. Texas, from third grade grade teacher at West Decatur to first grade teacher at Benjamin Davis effective 2019-2020 school year.

• Woodmeade: Cristy Brown Morgan, from fourth grade teacher at Woodmeade to robotics at Austin Middle, effective 2019-2020 school year.


Short-term contracts

• Career Academies of Decatur: Will Waters, fire & emergency services academy instructor.

• Special Services: Hank Little, intervention; Mary Ann Hotaling, collaborative specialist; Nancy Garrison - summer school teacher - substitute only.




• Central Office: Hunter Howell Simmons, secretary.

• Maintenance: Jeremy Brandon Mayo, general maintenance.



• Austin Middle: Kala Simmons, secretary/bookkeeper; John Slate, custodian.

• Banks-Caddell: Tara McClendon, secretary/bookkeeper.

• Central Office: Claudia Black, receptionist; Kryssi Daniels, clerical aide.

• Decatur Middle: Nikaela Jones, clerical aide.

• Eastwood: Amy Wynn, custodian.

• Julian Harris: Keri Morris, custodian.

• Maintenance: Jonathan Ward, maintenance worker.

• Professional Training Center: Whitney Alison Pena, CNP worker.

• Transportation: Lori Ray, bus driver; Edward Howard Lacy Jr., bus driver.

• Woodmeade: Rebecca Johnson, custodian; Nancy Hill, secretary/bookkeeper.


Change of payroll status

• Professional Training Center: Brian Heath Keenum, from computer technician I, Schedule PD, Rank C, Step 1 to computer technician II, Schedule PC, Step 0; Charles Dale McCravy – from computer technician I, Schedule PD, Rank A, Step 7 to computer technician II, Schedule PC, Step 0.



• Banks-Caddell: Elizabeth Tirado, from instructional aide at Banks-Caddell to clerical aide at Banks-Caddell, effective 2019-2020 school year.

• Special Services: Carrington D. Calvin, from special ed. aide at Special Services to aide-ISS at Austin Junior High effective 2019-2020 school year.

— or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.
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