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TCES hires new principal

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By James Roberts

A familiar face will greet Taylor County Elementary students next school year.

Brian Clifford, who started his education career at Taylor County Middle School a decade ago, has been named the new principal at TCES.

Karen Bruce, elementary teacher and vice chairwoman of the school's site-based decision making council, said the council offered Clifford the job on Tuesday.

Clifford, who is currently curriculum coordinator at Barren County Schools, said he looks forward to returning to Taylor County.

"Campbellsville seems like home to my family and I," Clifford said.

Clifford and his wife, Jennifer, a teacher at Barren County's Austin Tracy Elementary, have three children - Nathaniel, 8, Carli, 5, and McKennah, 1.

Education was always Clifford's chosen profession.

"As long as I can remember I wanted to be an educator. I felt I had a gift for working with kids."

That gift led Clifford to TCMS, where he spent about eight years teaching arts and humanities and leading the choir.

In 2005, Clifford left Taylor County to accept a job as principal at Park City Elementary in Barren County. Two years later, he was promoted to curriculum coordinator.

At Park City, Clifford oversaw 365 students, far fewer than the 1,100-plus at TCES.

"I think it brings a challenge, but it also means you can offer more to students than smaller schools can," Clifford said.

While he enjoys being curriculum coordinator, Clifford said he couldn't fight the urge to get back into the schools.

"I do enjoy this position, but I just felt called to elementary. I want to be in the schools. I miss that."

The Taylor County Elementary principal's post was left vacant last June when Bill Mattingly resigned to accept Taylor County Schools' newly-created position of director of district-wide programs. Mattingly was TCES principal for seven years. In October, Herbert Wheat was appointed interim principal. He will finish the remainder of the school year.

TCES' site-based council sought applicants for the vacant position twice. Last fall, after interviewing three candidates, the SBDM opted to repost the position later in the school year. The position was posted again on Jan. 10.

The applicant pool was far more impressive this time, Bruce said, providing the council with 11 applicants. The council pared that number down to six and conducted two sets of interviews.

Earlier this week, the council brought two applicants back, including Clifford, for an additional interview before offering Clifford the job.

Clifford will start on July 1. He and his family will likely relocate to Taylor County in June, he said.

"I'm excited. I'm humbled. I'm honored to be chosen," he said. "I'm excited to be part of Taylor County Elementary."

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.