Humphreys named Prairie Grove Middle School principal


PRAIRIE GROVE -- The Prairie Grove School Board voted recently to promote Luke Humphreys from interim middle school principal to middle school principal, effective immediately, with the contract to continue through the next school year.

The board met for more than an hour in executive session March 14 before returning to public session and unanimously approving the consent agenda without any discussion. The promotion was included in the consent agenda.

In recommending Humphreys for the principal position, Pete Joenks, interim superintendent of schools, on March 15 said he talked to faculty at the middle school and received an "overwhelming response" that teachers thought Humphreys was doing a "fantastic job."

Joenks said the district's personnel policy did not require the school to open up the position for applications.

Joenks said Humphreys has good organizational and interpersonal skills, is proactive, believes in teamwork and getting teacher input and works well with students.

The teachers "trust him and trust his judgment," Joenks said.

He said Humphreys interviewed with him for the position and Humphreys "has great plans for the middle school and growing that program."

Now that Humphreys has been named principal, he will be able to start the search for an assistant principal at the middle school, Joenks said.

Humphreys started the 2022-23 school year as the middle school's new assistant principal but toward the end of the semester was named interim principal after former principal Shayne Taylor took a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year.

Humphreys came to Prairie Grove from the Russellville School District where he taught math for four years (fifth grade and eighth grade) and was the high school assistant principal for two years. He graduated from Alma High School in 2008, has a bachelor of science degree in education and a master's degree in educational leadership.

The board named Humphreys interim principal at its Dec. 20 meeting, following a personnel fallout at the school district because of a controversial video on school safety shown to teachers during a Nov. 30 professional development session.

The video was shown as a memorial to those who were killed during a fictitious school shooting at a Prairie Grove school. The video used actual photos of Prairie Grove teachers or their children as the victims in the shooting.

Two days after the video was shown to teachers at the high school, middle school and elementary school, Reba Holmes, former superintendent, and Taylor both submitted requests to take a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year, with Holmes announcing she would retire June 30.

The School Board, in a special meeting Dec. 2, approved the leaves for Holmes and Taylor with pay from their accrued personal vacation and sick days. At the same meeting, the board named Joenks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, as interim superintendent.

In other personnel actions approved at the March 14 meeting, the board accepted resignations from teachers Sierra Merrick (one year leave of absence), Amy Morrow, Lisa Spence (retirement), Vanessa Orr (retirement), Christy Henry (retirement) and Victor Hill from transportation. It approved hiring Amanda Jinks as a paraprofessional and Rich McNatt for transportation/maintenance.

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