leadership changes

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. -- The Pulaski County Special School District is excited to announce new school-level leadership for the 2021-2022 school year. PCSSD hired three new principals, an administrator and eight assistant principals for the upcoming school year.

Jason Young

Principal, Maumelle High School

Preston Echols

Principal, Maumelle Middle School

Britney Hickman

Principal, Sylvan Hills Elementary School

Leslie Ireland

Administrator, DRIVEN Virtual Academy / Center of Innovation

Michelle Camp

Assistant Principal, Sylvan Hills Junior High School

Neely Claassen

Assistant Principal, Chenal Elementary School

Dennis Dewitt

Assistant Principal, Crystal Hill Elementary School

Valencia Essel

Assistant Principal, Baker Elementary School

Teresa Moka

Assistant Principal, Mills University Studies High School

Damian Patterson

Assistant Principal, Mills Middle School; AVID secondary support

Angela Saine

Assistant Principal, Maumelle Middle School

Dr. Matthew White

Assistant Principal, Mills Middle School

Jason Young is the new Maumelle High School Principal and previously served as the principal at Sylvan Hills Elementary. He has been with PCSSD for 23 years and has served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He is pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership. Young is married with two children and his wife is speech pathologist for PCSSD.

With Young’s transition to Maumelle High, Britney Hickman is now the principal at Sylvan Hills Elementary. Hickman served as assistant principal at Sylvan Hills Elementary for the past two years, and five years at Sylvan Hills Middle prior to her time at the elementary school. She is a Hope native and attended Henderson State University. 

Preston Echols is the new Maumelle Middle School Principal and previously served as an assistant principal at Conway Junior High for four years. In addition to working for Conway Public Schools, he also coached and taught elementary physical education in Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel school districts. He is from Forrest City and graduated from the University of Central Arkansas. He has also received masters degrees from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Harding University.

In addition to a new principal, Maumelle Middle will also have a new assistant principal this school year. Angela Sain joins the Maumelle Middle team as assistant principal and previously served in the Little Rock School District. She has been in education for 18 years and is married with three daughters. Kari Townsend will continue as an additional assistant principal for Maumelle Middle for her second year at the school.

Damian Patterson, previously an assistant principal at Maumelle Middle, will assume a new role within PCSSD. He will serve as an assistant principal at Mills Middle for two days per week, while also serving as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) support for secondary schools. Patterson is entering his ninth year with the District.

Dr. Matthew White is the new, full-time assistant principal at Mills Middle School. Dr. White is entering his 14th year in education. He worked for the Greenbrier School District for the past five years as an English teacher at Greenbrier Junior High and worked for Atkins and Augusta high schools. He is married, has a son and most recently received a doctoral degree in School Leadership from Arkansas Tech University.

Teresa Moka is a new addition to the school leadership team at Mills University Studies High where she will join as another assistant principal for the school. She previously served as an elementary instructional coach at Pine Forest Elementary School. This is Mrs. Moka's 17th year in education, and she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and has an Ed. Specialist Degree from the University of Arkansas.

Neely Claassen is the new assistant principal at Chenal Elementary, replacing Dr. Ruth Ann Guilbert who retired after last school year. For the previous five years, Claassen served as the assistant principal at Mayflower Elementary and taught fourth grade in Shreveport, Louisiana for six years before that. In addition to her bachelors and masters degrees,  she has an Ed. Specialist Degree in Education Leadership and is pursuing her doctorate in Education Leadership at the University of Arkansas.

Dennis Dewitt is the new Crystal Hill Elementary assistant principal and previously served as the assistant principal at Baker Elementary. Prior to his five years serving as administrator, Dewitt was a teacher for two schools in PCSSD. He is married with two children and graduated from Arkansas State University. 

Valencia Essel is transferring from Crystal Hill Elementary to Baker Elementary as the assistant principal, replacing Dewitt. Prior to her year as assistant principal at Crystal Hill, Essel spent four years as a classroom teacher for PCSSD. She also served as the curriculum coordinator for North Little Rock School District in the past. Essel is married with one child and is currently in the doctoral program at Arkansas Tech University.

Leslie Ireland transitioned from assistant principal at Sylvan Hills Junior High (formerly Sylvan Hills High - North) to a new position as administrator of DRIVEN Virtual Academy and the Center of Innovation. Ireland has worked with PCSSD since 2008 and in education for 31 years. She and her husband have been married nearly 30 years and have two children.

Michelle Camp is moving from Sylvan Hills High School where she served as a marketing and business teacher to assume the position of assistant principal at Sylvan Hills Junior High. Camp has worked with PCSSD for 18 years and she has served as DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) advisor and CTE (career and technical education) department chair during her years as a teacher for the District.

The first day of the 2021-2022 school year is Monday, August 16, 2021.