'Big shoes to fill': Northwestern High School principal retiring

Northwestern High School principal James Blake is retiring.
Northwestern High School principal James Blake is retiring. Contributed photo

Northwestern High School in Rock Hill is looking for a new leader.

And, according to those who know Principal James Blake, the school has big shoes to fill.

After 34 years at Northwestern, serving 15 as principal, Blake will retire at the end of the school year, according to district announcement.

Many Rock Hill community members left notes of congratulations Tuesday and Wednesday to Blake on the Rock Hill school district's Facebook page.

"Congrats on a great career of shaping and educating the youth of the community," posted user Jonathan Garvey. Garvey wrote that he is a class of '88 Northwestern grad and his wife is class of '89.

Blake began his career as a teacher and a coach. He was named principal in 2002.

Facebook user Andrea Melton wrote: "Enjoy your retirement Coach Blake! You deserve it. Those are going to be some hard shoes to fill."

Laura Back wrote that she is class of '88 Northwestern grad.

"Mr Blake, you were one of my favorite teachers. you were always so respectful of your students, even when taking corrective action, and always kind and patient," Back wrote.

Joanne Gaskins, whose profile lists her as a retired teacher, described Blake as "the embodiment of a Trojan."

"I enjoyed working with and for him. It's difficult to imagine NHS without him there. These will be big shoes to fill," Gaskins wrote. "Congratulations, James, on a brilliant career that touched innumerable lives, and best wishes for a well-deserved retirement."

South Pointe High School's leader Al Leonard also is retiring this year. Leonard has served as principal of the high school since it opened in 2005.

John Kirell was named the new principal of Ebenezer Avenue Elementary School after current principal Chris Beard announced he is retiring in June as well.

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082
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