Update: At Thursday night's Cobb County Board of Education meeting, Denise Magee was reassigned from Principal, Campbell Middle School, to Principal, Campbell High School, effective July 1.
McGee, who was introduced to CHS staff Friday morning, will be replacing Dr. Grant Rivera. Smyrna-Vinings Patch will have more on this story and what it means for both schools later.
After a dozen years serving the Cobb County School District, Dr. Grant Rivera is leaving his position as principal to take a job as principal of Westlake High School in Fulton County.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Rivera said. “In one sense I am honored to go and serve at Westlake High School, but at the exact same time I’ve built incredible friendships and incredible relationships with students, with families, with the City of Smyrna. So to leave that is certainly sad.”
Rivera explained that the job with the Fulton County School System was a better opportunity both “professionally and personally.”
Cobb County School District Area 2 Assistant Superintendent Dale Gaddis said he was disappointed to see Rivera leave the school system.
“I know this for a fact that he did not take this decision lightly and I applaud him for that,” Gaddis said. “But at the same time, in analysis, he has to take care of him, his family and his career.”
Gaddis also noted that the CCSD can’t compete with the higher salaries offered in Fulton County.
“We are at the bottom end of the pay scale with our principals and other systems are hiring,” he said. “Fulton is hiring and today that makes a difference.”
At this week’s , Mayor Max Bacon spoke of Rivera’s dedication to Campbell.
“Grant has been unbelievable and to hear him talk about what he feels for the schools and his compassion for everything in life,” he said. “I heard him speak one night, this was the night they were going to cut the budget. This was the first big cut. He sat there and told a crowd of about 80 that he’d rather have people invested in school than to have money. And you know what, that really hit me.”
Following last weekend’s news that Rivera was leaving Campbell, not all the online comments have been as praise worthy of his work at CHS. Regardless, he is proud of school’s improvement on his watch.
“Academically, I’m most proud of the fact that we had incredible gains on standardized tests, particularly the graduation test,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that we had such significant student achievement gains especially in the areas that are for traditionally average students. So for example, our special needs students did exceptionally well, and that’s an area we struggled with in the past.
“However, one of the other things I’m most proud of goes beyond the classroom, which is the idea of , where our students were expected to complete 20 hours of community service. And over the course of that we developed a lot of relationships with the community and our kids were able to go out and serve. I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished academically, but I’m also more proud of what they’ve accomplished in terms of their character.”
When Rivera arrived at Campbell, the high school’s graduation test scores put it in the “Needs Improvement” category. Now the school’s scores have improved, upgrading them to the “Adequate Yearly Progress” category.
Now the district must hire his successor.
“We obviously want a principal that is very forthright with the community, in front of the community and a face of the community,” Gaddis said. “The days of the principal going into the schoolhouse and running their school are over and rightfully so.
"The principal has got to be someone who is user friendly, community friendly; someone with high expectations and instructional focus.”