For new middle school principal Charlie Owens, being a Berea Community School Pirate is just in his blood.
It's in his family's blood, too. According to Owens, they all attended Berea Community Schools, and he followed in their footsteps. He even played on the same football field that was dedicated in honor of his grandfather -- Guy Duerson.
At the time, Owens wasn't looking for a principal position when he ran into his former guidance counselor and then-high school principal, Donna Lovell, when he went to see his cousin's last high school play performance several years ago. While catching up, he mentioned his current position as an assistant principal at Garrard County High School. Lovell suggested he apply for her position where she retired in a few years.
"I've always wanted to coach, and I did coach, but now I feel, for whatever reason, I have the ability to lead. But being a principal? I wasn't looking. I applied for one principal position this year, and it was this one," Owens said. "And the reason it was this one is because all my family went through here. I went through here. I have a lot of pride for this place. I grew up in Berea, I'm proud I'm a Pirate. This is a special, special place. You don't realize it, how special it is, until you've worked at Powell County, Garrard and East Jessamine. This is just different than those places."
While at the rededication for the football stadium in late 2018, Owens said he felt right at home. He was given a tour of the school, which had changed considerably since his time as a student, and he was able to hang out with Lovell and Superintendent Diane Hatchett.
"It just brought me back to my Pirate roots, where I came from," he said.
Most of Owens' educational career has been in special education. He earned his Rank II at Georgetown College in special education and a Rank I from the University of the Cumberlands for his principalship. Prior to his current position, Owens had been assistant principal in Garrard County, and a full-time athletic director at East Jessamine High School in Nicholasville.
With the first week of school under his belt, Owens has credited the first week back kicking off smoothly to Charlotte Haycraft, who knows the ins and outs of Berea Middle School like the back of her hand.
"I have the best guidance counselor in the state of Kentucky, that's not even close," Owens said. "If I wasn't to show up one day, Charlotte could handle it no problem. But if it were the other way around, we'd probably be in trouble."
While in his position as middle school principal, Owens said his mission is to value his stakeholder opinions and create a positive independent identity for the middle school as it moves forward as its own separate educational institution.
"It's important to me, but it is important to my teachers. That's what I've learned. My teachers wanted to have their own pep rally, their own T-shirts, so I've got those ordered," Owens said. "That's just a big thing of creating a school culture that includes students and teachers."
"I'm hoping to meet every kid in my middle school at some point. There's a lot of faces, lot of names," Owens continued. "But one of my favorite things to do is sit down with them at lunch and learn who they are and enjoying the process of them growing."
While his heart is in Berea, Owens' home is still in eastern Boyle County, where he lives with his wife, Erin, and two children, Kennedy and Riley.
Reach Kaitlyn Brooks at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynsbrooks.