Mount Gallant, Belleview elementaries hire principals

The Rock Hill school board has approved new principals for two elementary schools.

Latoya Dixon, an assistant principal at Old Pointe Elementary, will become principal of Mount Gallant Elementary School in January. John Kirell, an assistant principal at Saluda Trail Middle School, will become an assistant principal at Belleview Elementary in January, taking over as principal in July.

The moves were approved by the school board Monday night.

For Dixon, the new job is a homecoming of sorts. She attended Mount Gallant as a child.

"I'm really excited to just go back and become a part of a long-standing tradition of excellence," she said. "I know that tradition firsthand, and I am going to work very hard to continue it as a principal."

Mount Gallant's current principal will become the first principal of the new Mount Holly Elementary School in December.

Dixon has been an assistant principal at Old Pointe Elementary since the beginning of this school year. Before that, she did an administrative internship at Old Pointe, filling many of the same roles she has now.

She has a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Clemson University and a Master of Educational Leadership from the University of South Carolina.

Kirell, who said he's never stopped seeing himself as a teacher, thinks his laid-back attitude will make him an approachable figure for teachers and parents.

"It's a perfect situation where you can still be a teacher -- you become more of a teacher of teachers -- and you still get to interact with the students," he said. "That's very important to me."

Kirell said he knew there was a place for him in elementary education after his third-grade teacher helped him get his own education back on track. He will spend his semester as an assistant principal learning about the culture of Belleview.

Belleview's current principal will retire at the end of the school year.

Kirell earned his Bachelor of Science in early childhood education and his Master of Education in educational leadership and supervision from Winthrop University. He has been an assistant principal at Saluda Trail since 2004.