Building-level leadership teams take shape for next school year

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The end of an academic year sometimes brings about change to a school district’s leadership team, particularly at the building level. With the opening of Minerva France Elementary next August, followed by Minerva Park Middle School in 2023-24, several schools will welcome new leadership team members next year.


Minerva France Elementary

District officials this past December announced that Huber Ridge Principal Tyson Hilkert was selected as the first principal of Minerva France Elementary, which will open at the start of the 2022-23 school year. Hilkert joined Westerville City Schools in 2011 when he was hired as a teacher and intervention specialist. He has been providing leadership at Huber Ridge Elementary since being named assistant principal in 2015 and then becoming the school’s principal in 2017. Hilkert holds his Bachelor of Arts in education from Bluffton University (Bluffton, OH) and his Master of Arts from Concordia University (Chicago, IL).

“I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with such an exceptional group of students, staff, and families at Huber Ridge,” Hilkert said. “It is a rare opportunity to open a new school, so I am definitely excited and looking forward to working with our students, families and staff to build those new traditions and establish a sense of community that will make Minerva France a special place for everyone.”

Ja’Niece Whitehead will join Hilkert as Minerva France’s first assistant principal, pending Board approval next Monday. Whitehead comes to Westerville City Schools from Oberlin Elementary in Oberlin, Ohio, where she has taught third grade for the past six years. She previously worked as an elementary educator for Valley Christian School in Youngstown, Ohio.

“I am overjoyed to become a part of the Westerville community,” Whitehead said. “I am eager to continue the tremendous work already established while working to enhance and grow partnerships with students, families, and all stakeholders.”

Whitehead holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Youngstown State University and her Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching from Bowling Green State University. She is in the process of completing her Doctorate in Educational Curriculum and Instruction through Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.


Huber Ridge Elementary

Hilkert’s transition to Minerva France created a vacancy in the principal position at Huber Ridge Elementary. Additionally, Assistant Principal Roshonda Elder recently submitted her resignation from the district, which means Huber Ridge will have an entirely new leadership team next year. Sheri Chaffin, who currently serves as the assistant principal at Pointview Elementary, has been selected as the next principal at Huber Ridge. The vacant assistant principal position at Pointview will be filled over the coming weeks.

“I am delighted, honored, and inspired for the opportunity to join the Huber Ridge Community,” Chaffin said. “As a graduate of Westerville City Schools, it gives me no greater joy than to work with staff and families to help future generations dream big dreams and gain the skills and knowledge to realize them.”

Joining Chaffin as assistant principal at Huber Ridge Elementary is Michael Warren. Warren brings more than a decade of instructional experience to our district and currently works as the assistant principal at Pittsburgh King PreK-8 school in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“I am really looking forward to joining the Westerville City School,” Warren said. “From the moment I interviewed with the staff and stakeholders from Huber Ridge, I was very impressed by the school’s diversity and initiatives on equity and inclusion. I am looking forward to being part of a school community that is working together to ensure that all students can be successful.”

Warren holds his Bachelor of Science in Music Education, his Master of Science in Education Administration K-12, and his Doctor of Education (Educational Leadership) from Duquesne University.


McVay Elementary

Pending Board approval on Monday, Michelle Howard will become the principal of McVay Elementary next school year. Howard currently serves as principal of George Washington Elementary in Marion City Schools (MCS). She held another elementary principal position in MCS and also served as an assistant principal for the district.

“I am honored and excited to be a part of Westerville City Schools, in particular to be a part of McVay Elementary,” Howard said. “I was very impressed by the passion towards McVay Elementary School during my interviewing process, in particular their passion for students, commitment to the education of the whole child and the importance of community involvement. This opportunity to be the next principal of McVay Elementary School feels like a dream come true…I appreciate this opportunity and I am looking forward to the start of the 2022-2023 school year!”

Howard brings nine years of classroom experience as an elementary school teacher. She holds her Bachelor of Science (Childhood Education 1-6) from SUNY Oneonta State University in New York, her Master of Science in Education (Childhood & Literacy Education 1-6) from Binghamton University in New York, and a Master of Arts in Education (Educational Leadership) from Concordia University Chicago. Jason Fullen, who has been serving as McVay’s interim principal since Jim Swain’s resignation earlier this year, will resume his assistant principal responsibilities at the school next year.


Minerva Park Middle School

Pending Board approval on Monday, Westerville South High School (WSHS) Assistant Principal Dr. Garrett Carter will become the first principal of Minerva Park Middle School (MPMS). Though the school won’t open until the 2023-24 academic year, Carter will work out of the district’s main office next year to complete the staffing process for MPMS, along with all of the other tasks associated with opening a new facility. The vacant WSHS assistant principal position will be filled over the coming weeks.

“I am beyond thrilled to help launch and establish Minerva Park Middle School as the building's inaugural principal,” Dr. Carter said. “I look forward to working with students, staff, families, and community partners to develop students academically while also supporting the district's Portrait of a Graduate vision. At MPMS, we will work with all WCS stakeholders to build a strong foundation that will benefit students not only in the critical middle grades but beyond. This is a very exciting time for our district.”

Dr. Carter joined WSHS as an assistant principal at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Prior to coming to Westerville, he spent five years as an Associate Instructor of College and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University. Also during that time, he worked three summers as a Program Coordinator for the university’s Balfour Pre-College Academy. Dr. Carter worked six years for the Northmont City Schools as a 7th and 8th grade Language Arts Teacher and, prior to that, spent two years as an Assistant Residence Coordinator at the University of Cincinnati, which is where he received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, along with a minor in Business. He went on to earn his Master of Education with a concentration in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Indiana University.