This week marks a lot of new beginnings: new school year, classes, teachers and probably shoes.
And both Mount Pleasant High and Middle schools have new principals, something that hasn’t happened in this small town since the last century.
Mount Pleasant schools are uniquely tied to the community, something both new principals recognize and appreciate about their positions.
High school principal Jon LaChance likes the closeness of Mount Pleasant, the fact that he can run into students or parents at the grocery store and have a conversation with them.
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There’s a lot of school spirit, he said, and people who care about the school.
“I don’t know if I’d want a principalship anywhere else,” LaChance said.
Tim Farrar at Mount Pleasant Middle recognizes how important the schools are in this community. He’s already sat in on a Town Council meeting and is determined to make improvements to the campus, even as he plans for a new middle school.
“I’m going to be here to open a new school,” he said. “I’m here to make sure things are done right, and Mount Pleasant is taken care of.”
Neither LaChance nor Farrar thought he’d end up in school administration.
LaChance came to North Carolina from Niagara Falls, N.Y., to teach social studies and coach football.
Farrar, who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, never set out to be a principal, either. But as a teacher, he saw the need for good administrators and was recruited by Cabarrus County to work in school administration. He met with former superintendent Harold “Butch” Winkler.
“I was hooked,” he said.
Both men miss being in the classroom.
“I was made to be a teacher,” LaChance said. He mostly misses the rapport with students, who now see him in a different role as an administrator.
Farrar – who loves middle school kids, with all their changes and challenges – plans to continue teaching from time to time.
As principal, Farrar’s goal is to offer the structure and guidance students need to learn from mistakes, and develop the skills and character traits they need to be successful.
With new leadership there will be changes at each school, though nothing as draconian as student rumors would have you believe.
LaChance, who was an assistant principal at Mount Pleasant, said students tend to think of him as “the enforcer,” and he’s heard the rumors about an end to senior privileges and dress code enforcement. Neither is true, he said. He wants to do more celebrating and focusing on positivity while also making school administrators more visible and accessible.
Farrar, likewise, plans to celebrate positive behavior and academic achievement.
“I’ll be very visible and very involved,” he said. “I have an open-door policy. Come talk to me.”
Most of all, both principals are determined to help students learn.
First by supporting and encouraging teachers, and then by focusing on what students need, both Farrar and LaChance are still doing what they set out to do: teaching kids.