Two Madison County schools will have new leaders when students arrive for the 2007-08 school year.

Louisville native Kevin Combs and lifelong Madison Countian David Gilliam will be the new principals at Clark-Moores Middle School and Madison Southern High School, respectively, effective July 1.

Combs, 46, will be replacing Franklin Thomas, who left earlier in the school year to take an instructional supervisor position in Bourbon County.

Lawrence Bailey, who spent 30 years at the Clark-Moores -- 18 as a teacher and coach, six as an assistant principal and six as head principal -- was named interim principal after Thomas, who spent two and a half years as assistant principal at Jackson County High School before replacing the retiring Bailey in 2004, left the school.

“My goals are to continue to build on the foundation that is in place here,” Combs said. “I want to empower the teachers and support and provide programs that meet the needs of our students. I want to foster relationships with parents because they’re an integral part of what we’re doing. I want the kids to know that they are our number one priority.”

A Richmond resident for the past eight years, Combs graduated from Morehead State University in 1986, received his master’s degrees from Austin Peay University and the University of Louisville and earned his administrative certification at Eastern Kentucky University.

He has taught at Model Laboratory School and McNabb Middle School in Mt. Sterling, where he serves this year as interim principal.

“When (my family) originally moved to Madison County, my wife was looking for a position in her career in the automotive field,” Combs said. “I had made a couple visits to Foley Middle School. I met some of their staff and their principal (at the time,) Mike Caudill. We had the option of moving to see Cincinnati or here. Because of my experiences at Foley, I just had a good feeling about the county.”

When the principal position became available at Clark-Moores, Combs said he was extremely excited about the opportunity.

“I have a philosophy that you teach in the community where you live because your working with those kids,” he said. “I’m having a great experience at the school I’m at now, but when this opportunity came, I pursued it pretty hard.”

Combs was introduced Thursday to several faculty, staff and school board members during a reception, sponsored by Central Bank, in his honor.

He said he wants to be able to analyze the school’s data and meet all the teachers, counselors and other support staff to put together a game plan for next year.

“I like working with kids and teachers,” he said. “I like being in an environment that is centered on students. I feel like there’s a great situation here. I just want to come in and do all I can to make it that much more successful.”

Gilliam, a Madison Central High School alumnus, has been a marketing teacher at Madison Southern for 15 years and has served as athletic director at the school for more than four years.

An EKU graduate, Gilliam will be replacing Hubert Broaddus, who will be retiring at the end of the school year.

Broaddus, who had been principal at Madison Central High School for four years, left the school for Madison Southern in 2004.

“I’m very excited at the opportunity to lead this school,” Gilliam said.

“Madison Southern is a special place. We’re just wanting to continue to grow. Our number one priority is student achievement. We’re looking for ways to expand opportunities for kids.”

Having lived in Madison County his entire life and having a great familiarity with Madison Southern will be very beneficial, he said.

“It’s crucial,” Gilliam said. “Knowing and understanding the school for 15 years and being part of this community for my entire life are certainly qualities that are really going to help me.”

Combs and Gilliam are good fits to fill the principal position, said Glenn Marshall, acting superintendent of Madison County Schools.

“Mr. Combs comes to us with a middle-school background,” he said. “I’ve met with him, and I’m impressed with him. I think he’ll have the type of personality where he’ll work well with teachers and students.”

“Mr. Gilliam has been a teacher at Madison Southern for several years,” Marshall said. “He has a very positive quality about him. I think he will serve that school well and provide good leadership.”

Another principal vacancy still to be filled is at Kingston Elementary with Tolene Pitts retiring at the end of the school year.

The list of candidates is down to two and the role should be filled soon, Marshall said.

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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