Decatur City Schools hired principals for Chestnut Grove, Woodmeade and Austinville elementary schools after obtaining board approval Tuesday afternoon.

Rebekah Higgins, who attended Decatur City Schools and served as an educator in the district for 21 years, will be the new principal at Chestnut Grove Elementary School.

“I am excited to serve Decatur City Schools in this new capacity and continue the vision of our district,” Higgins said.

Mark Christopher, who was principal at Chestnut Grove during the 2019-20 school year, will move to Austin Junior High School as principal.

DCS Superintendent Michael Douglas said Higgins has a “stellar reputation” and will bring stability to Chestnut Grove’s leadership.

“Rebekah Higgins has been in the district a very long time,” Douglas said. “I told her she’s going to have to stay at Chestnut a while because they’ve had some principal turnover.”

“Chestnut Grove is an amazing school, and I am honored to be a part of the wonderful things they have going on,” Higgins said.

Higgins most recently was instructional coach at Austin Middle. Her salary as principal will be $85,606.

Taunya Smith will replace Angie Whittington as principal of Woodmeade Elementary. Whittington is retiring after 14 years as principal. Smith is an out-of-district hire with five years’ experience as a principal. She previously served as principal of Jones Valley and James I. Dawson elementary schools in Huntsville.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the Woodmeade community and working alongside them,” Smith said. “The school already has a long tradition of excellence. So I want to come in and continue what’s already been there, and bring some new things that the community and the teachers want to see.”

Douglas said Smith has experience working with Title I schools, and was hired due to her experience working as a principal.

Smith’s salary will be $80,140.

Stacie Givens will serve as the new principal of Austinville Elementary. Current principal Tony Willis will serve as supervisor of Accountability and Special Programs for the district’s Central Office.

Givens said she is excited to return to the elementary school level and is looking forward to joining Decatur City Schools. She is an out-of-district hire who formerly served as principal of Hazlewood Elementary in Town Creek and Moulton Middle School, and assistant principal of Russellville High School.

Douglas said Givens’ 10 years of administrative experience, in addition to her experience working with students for whom English is a second language at Russellville, will benefit her in her role at Austinville.

Givens’ salary will be $87,514.

Assistant principals

New assistant principals were also hired at the school board meeting Tuesday. Michael Pryor will serve as assistant principal at Austin High School and Michelle Mitchell will serve as assistant principal at Decatur High School.

Four assistant principals were transferred within the district: Michael Wade Bobbitt, currently at Austin High, will move to Decatur High. Tommie Johnson, currently at Austin High, will move to Austin Junior High. Jacob Lee Hembree, currently at Austin Junior High, will move to Austin Middle. Calandra Leann Sales, currently at Decatur High, will move to Austin Junior High.

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