Enquirer Herald

New Blue Eagle Academy leader: No child is ever lost

Hezekiah Massey said working with at-risk students is his calling. Massey, 40, was last week named new director of Clover’s Blue Eagle Academy, an alternative school. His hiring was one of several administrative changes announced by the Clover district.

Hezekiah Massey said working with at-risk students has always been his calling. He believes no student is so troubled that he or she can’t be reached by educators.

Massey, 40, was last week named new director of Clover’s Blue Eagle Academy, an alternative school for about 115 students in grades five to 12 with discipline or behavior problems.

Massey — who comes from Hunter-Kinard-Tyler High School in Orangeburg, where he was principal — replaces Mike McAdams as director. Before working in Orangeburg, Massey was an assistant principal at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill.

He takes over the school as the Clover district has expanded the academy by adding a Junior Blue Eagle program, an intervention program for students in grades three, four and five.

“Every child is different,” Massey said last week about his calling. “Some need alternative means to get to the point of success. This program provides them with that means.”

Massey’s hiring was one of several administrative changes announced by the Clover school district. Three schools will have new assistant principals when school opens Aug. 22:

• Larne Elementary: Scott Jeffrey replaces Katie Wall, who has left the district to become principal at Kelly Mills Middle School in Columbia. Jeffrey moves from Crowders Creek Elementary School, where he was an assistant principal.

• Crowders Creek Elementary: Anna Parrish will move from Bethel Elementary to Crowders Creek to replace Jeffrey.

• Bethel Elementary: Avery Goode replaces Parrish at Bethel Elementary, after three years as an assistant principal at Oakridge Middle School.

In addition, Kershena Dickey has been named the Clover school district’s instructional specialist for English language arts. She comes from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, where she was a literacy and Title I coordinator. She replaces Vickie Brockman, who is retiring.

Sheila Huckabee, Clover’s assistant superintendent, said district officials wanted to expand the academy with a junior program to reach students who are showing conduct issues in elementary school.

“What we saw was, our home elementary schools didn’t have a consistent way of helping kids who were persistent behavior problems — they just didn’t know what else we can do,” she said.

The Clover school board voted last month to spend up to $300,000 to expand the academy, adding two teachers, a guidance counselor and a certified behavior specialist. Huckabee said the behavior specialist will develop new strategies for the students and help them transition back into the elementary school.

Students can choose to attend Blue Eagle Academy or can be referred their based on behavior programs in their home school. To refer students, Huckabee said elementary schools will need to show that they have offered counseling and other behavior intervention efforts to help problem students and that nothing has been effective.

She said the junior program may be a 15- to 18-week program that works with students to resolve issues and then returns them to home elementary schools.

The program will have three classes of five to eight students per class, she said. However, she said, it may start the year with only eight or nine students and add others as the need arises.

Massey said he has developed mentoring programs for students at every school where he’s worked. He said he has worked as a volunteer arbitrator with juveniles the 16th Judicial Circuit.

“We don’t want to give up on any one student, because they all deserve a chance to be successful,” said Massey. “We have to develop ways to reach every child.”

Massey, a Charlotte native, has four children in Clover schools; his wife works as dean of students at Olympic High School in Charlotte. He’s a volunteer coach with a Pop Warner team in Clover and coaches for the Clover Recreation Department.

“No child is ever lost until the adults give up,” he said. “Our mission is to make sure we provide the opportunity we can provide. Until we’ve exhausted everything, we’re not going to give up.”