Earl McMahan is new principal at Heritage

Longtime coach and administrator Earl McMahan is the new principal at Heritage High School.

Blount County Schools director Rob Britt chose McMahan, who was an assistant principal at HHS, for the assignment today. McMahan said he was ready to begin his new job.

“We’ll take a deep breath, and get to work,” McMahan said Monday afternoon.

McMahan said he has taught and coached and worked in administration. “It’s basically all about the kids. We have a lot of outstanding faculty and kids and a great community,” he said. “Heritage is a good school. We just want to continue that and try to make it better each and everyday.”

McMahan said the school has had good leadership in the past and praised principal Patricia Mandigo for her work. Mandigo recently retired as principal at the school.

“Ms. Mandigo did a great job, and I want to continue that and try to do the best I can for the kids of our school, to prepare them for things you have to do to succeed in the 21st century,” he said.

McMahan said one of the first tasks will be meeting with teachers and administrators and setting out the challenge he sees for them. “It’s going to take a collaborative effort to do what we have to do. We want to have every student graduate with the tools to either go onto post-secondary education or into a vocation,” he said. “That is the business of high school -- to prepare our students.

McMahon, 57, has been in education a total of 28 years. He graduated from South Broward High School in Hollywood, Fla., and came to Blount County when he attended Maryville College, where he earned his undergraduate degree. He earned his masters degree from the University of Tennessee and his Education Specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University.

His first teaching assignment was at Lanier High School where he taught economics.

Britt said he picked McMahan on Monday, and the new principal will start to work Tuesday morning. “Earl is very student-centered and was able to articulate a very compelling vision for what he wants to achieve at the high school,” Britt said. “He brings with him strong and proven leadership and experience.”

Britt said McMahan wants to bring teachers together to provide a collaborative, shared leadership model. “He wants them to have the opportunity to give input into what’s going on at Heritage High School on all levels. I think that was something really needed there,” Britt said. “He wants to build a team of folks where everyone feels they are valued and what they do within the school community is very important.”

Britt said McMahan wants to build a culture where there is one school focused on one set of goals and priorities. “I think that was very important. He plans to be very visible, which I think is one of the keys to a principal being successful,” he said. “They need to be out among teachers, students and parents.”

Britt said McMahan also has a compelling vision regarding communication. “He wants to improve the communication links between himself, parents, students and teachers,” Britt said. “He wants to emphasize academics at the school and building relationships.”

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