Wando principal takes on bigger role

Longtime Wando High Principal Lucy Beckham is leaving her job as the leader of the state’s largest high school to take on a new role as executive principal of East Cooper schools.

Longtime Wando High School Principal Lucy Beckham has been promoted to a new position focusing on academics at all East Cooper Schools.

Beckham, a nationally recognized school administrator, will remain at the state’s largest high school but in a different role, district officials said Tuesday. The change was announced following a school board vote Monday night creating the new position for Beckham — executive principal of Constituent School District 2. She moves into the new post July 1.

In the 2013 school year, Beckham’s salary was $111,773. At the time she was among the 10 highest-paid employees in the school district. Her salary in the new post was not announced Tuesday.

Beckham will remain on Wando’s campus at the school’s Center for Advanced studies, where she will oversee the educational planning and design of the new East Cooper high school. She will continue with school improvement initiatives at Wando and also will work with Wando feeder schools to improve academic programs and close achievement gaps.

Associate Principal Sherry Eppelsheimer will serve as Wando’s interim principal for the 2015-16 school year. Eppelsheimer has been an administrator at the school for the past seven years.

Associate Superintendent Lou Martin, who oversees Wando and all of Mount Pleasant’s middle schools, said Beckham will develop the curriculum and facility needs for the new high school. And she will make sure the new school’s courses complement those at Wando.

“One of the concerns is we cannot replicate every program at Wando, but the two schools have to be sister schools,” Martin said. “Lucy is the best person to put that together.”

Associate Superintendent Terri Nichols, who is in charge of Mount Pleasant’s elementary schools, said she’s looking forward to having Beckham work with her elementary school principals to evaluate student learning on a continuum through high school.

“It’s really an exciting partnership,” Nichols said.

Beckham has served as Wando’s principal since 1998. In 2009 she was named National High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Most recently she managed the development and opening of the $44.7 million Center for Advanced Studies, which houses career and technology courses.

Beckham said in an interview Tuesday that making the decision to take a step back from Wando was difficult.

“It’s always going to be hard to change,” Beckham said.

But Beckham said she isn’t really leaving Wando and that her new role will allow for a smooth transition with Eppelsheimer taking the reins.

“She is going to be flying the plane, but I’m still the navigator and if we hit fog or some bad weather I’m right here to help,” Beckham said.

Her new role, Beckham said, offers a “unique opportunity” to shape a new high school while also working to better serve the younger students who will eventually attend high school.

“I’m very personally invested in this community and feel that I am called to work with the high school students and to try to give them the best education possible,” Beckham said.