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Hancock County Schools Begin New School Year August 9th; new faces


The 2023/2024 school year begins at Hancock County Schools on Wednesday, August 9th. The district will be hiring this week (July 31-August 4th) to fill remaining positions, as eleven of HC Schools’ staff have retired.

Retirees from HCMS are Chris Pate and Kaye Aubrey; from HCHS: Debbie Dawson and Tom Magan; NHES: Heather Miller, Susie Gray and Danny Hobbs; SHES: Leigh Beatty; Bus Garage: Tracey Gray and Mary Stout; and Board Office: Carrie Wheatley.

Newly hired staff in the district are: HCHS Assistant Principal Jacob Bryant; HCHS Teacher Kristen Richards; HCMS Assistant Principal Josh Powers; HCMS Teacher Jo Mathieson; NHES Teachers Patricia Puckett & Madison Julian; Preschool Bus Monitor Hailey Brockway; HCHS Instructional Assistant II, Lauren Griffin; NHES Instr. Asst. III, Savannah Hunt; NHES Custodian Nic Miller; SHES Instr. Asst. II, Natalie Payne; NHES Cafeteria, Toni White; NHES Instr. Asst. III, Jazmine Winters; HCHS Boys’ Basketball Asst. Coaches Jeff Hamilton and Jake Powers; HCHS Football Asst. Coach Kirk Shearn & Volunteer Tyler Kratzer; HCHS Baseball Asst. Coach Tony Banta; HCHS Asst. Volleyball Coach Angel Baize; HCHS Track Coach/Volunteer Hadley Meserve; HCHS Head Golf Coach Dana Newby; and HCMS Boys’ Basketball Assistant Coach Nathan Maxwell & Volunteer Caleb McCoy.

This beautiful photo of Hancock County’s football field was made by Andrew Emmick with his drone. The old grass field is long gone with new astro turf.


Hancock County Middle School Principal Traci Sanders said that enrollment at the middle school is down some from last year. “I think we’re going to have around 315 students this year,” she said. “I think we had around 342 last year. We’re excited to see our sixth graders.

Last year, we put in the clear backpacks in our policy and we’re going to have those again this year, because that went great. It was just a safety concern before we got the backpacks and we were really glad that we did that. Our kids will still have one-to-one Chrome Books usage here at the middle school.

We’re going to be doing Future City again this year. Last year was the first year that we did that, for our Gifted & Talented students. They build & create their own future city and then we compete in a competition later in the year with that.

This year Amanda Garrison will be our new GT Coordinator. Amanda is going to come in and help with all of those things with our Gifted & Talented students, so we’re really excited about that.

Our goal, here at the middle school, is always building relationships with our students. We want our students to be happy to be here and we want them to learn while they’re here. We want them to know that we care about them here in every aspect.”


North Hancock Elementary School Principal Kelly Moore said enrollment this year at NHES is pretty close to what it was last year. “We have more students in different grade levels,” she said, “so we’ve shifted some teachers around and shifted some of our positions, based on our enrollment. We have really high numbers in first & second grade. In each of those 2 grades, we have 4 teachers. We have 3 homeroom teachers in our other grades (K, 3rd, 4th & 5th).

Thursday night (July 27th), we went out and did home visits. We had to finish up Friday. We tried to get to every single home (of every student at NHES), if they lived in-district. We divided our staff up and made home visits and were just so excited to see our students and their families. Each of our students got a little scratch-off card. We gave them a penny and they scratched off to see who their teacher is this year. They were super excited about that.

We had 8 bus routes (that transported them to each of the homes). Our transportation department was phenomenal – Brice Duncan and Teresa Sexton worked out routes for us and we had bus drivers that took us all over the county. We had the best time. It just really got all of our staff excited and pumped-up about the new year. The kids always love to see anyone from school. That was really kind of what got everyone in the school spirit.

Students that live out of district, could come to school the following day from 12-2, or if we went to your house and you weren’t home, they could come pick those cards up the next day. Any that weren’t picked up, we sent in the mail.

Our theme for this whole year is “I’ve Got the Magic in Me.”

My take on that is: we’ve all got that magic inside of us. Teachers and all of our staff have that magic in them that makes them so special to be able to do what they do each and every day. They have what every student needs, to bring out the best in those students. I feel like our students have the magic in them, that we can encourage & create and bring out the best in them, whether it’s reading & math or art & music. We’re kind of bringing out all of those awesome things that we know our kids have inside of them – teaching them a love for learning and getting them excited about learning new things.”

This new school year promises to be a great one. As the Hancock Clarion hears back from the principals of South Hancock and HCHS, their goals for this year will be published in upcoming editions.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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