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Dawson County welcomes three new principals
3 Principals Bennett mug

Three new principals have been named in the Dawson County School System, and will take their respective posts next school year.

The Dawson County Board of Education on Monday officially approved the hiring of principals for Riverview and Dawson County middle schools and Robinson Elementary School.

Dr. Randi Sagona and Jeff Clapper will be taking over Riverview and Dawson County middle schools respectively for Bill Zadernak (retiring) and Mark Merges (transferring) at the end of the current school year.

Sagona is currently the assistant principal at Piney Grove Middle School in Forsyth County.

She has 27 years of experience in education, having previously served as a graduation coach in Forsyth County as well as a special education teacher in New York and Florida.

Sagona holds a bachelor's degree in German from Susquehanna University, a master's degree in Special Education from Long Island University, an education specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of North Georgia and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from North Central University.

Clapper is currently the assistant principal at Little Mill Middle School in Forsyth County. He has 20 years of educational experience, having taught technology in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties for six years before moving to the assistant principal position for 14 years.

Clapper holds a bachelor's degree in Industrial Art and Technology and a master's and educational specialist degree in Educational Leadership, all from the University of Georgia.

"Since we had two middle school principal openings, we did one round of interviews. We involved the school governance councils from each middle school to serve on a panel," said Lisa Perry, assistant superintendent of personnel for the local school system. "The first round of interviews involved 10 applicants. The panels selected six applicants to send to [Dawson County School Superintendent Damon Gibbs], who then interviewed them personally. It was then narrowed down to the principal positions we hired."

Also taking a principal role is current Robinson Elementary School assistant principal Kim Bennett, who will be replacing Roxanne Howard following her retirement.

"With the elementary principal position, we handled that differently. We realized we had internal applicants that were ready to step into those leadership roles, so we opened that internally," Perry said. "I discussed applicants with the Robinson Elementary School Governance Council and they gave us the OK for Dr. Gibbs and me to interview those applicants."

Bennett holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Mathematics from Troy University and an educational specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University.

"We had an impressive pool of candidates and that was very pleasing," Perry said. "We have selected what we feel are the top candidates and best fit for Dawson County schools. We are excited to have them come into the school family."

Gibbs echoed Perry's confidence on the new hires.

"The three new principals are strong educational leaders that will continue the great work that is currently being done within each of our schools," he said. "We are fortunate to have new school leaders with a rich history of educational excellence, as well as, strong personal character."