MCSD administrator resigns, 2 new principals recommended at monthly board meeting

Muscogee County School District

A cabinet-level administrator is leaving the Muscogee County School District, and Superintendent David Lewis has recommended new principals for two schools while transferring others.

Kathy Tessin, the MCSD’s chief human resources officer, will resign in August. She told the Ledger-Enquirer that she doesn’t want to leave the district but plans to attend Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., accredited by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Tessin has worked in MCSD for 15 1/2 years, including six years as HR chief.

“I love this district,” she said. “I love the people I work with. It was a difficult decision, but I’m going to something.”

Her plan is to go into the ministry.

“I am starting the preordination process,” she said, “but we’ll see where it takes me.”

Her current job is a large responsibility. With about 4,300 employees, MCSD is the third-largest employer in the Columbus area, trailing only Fort Benning (40,000) and TSYS (4,690), according to the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

Lewis said MCSD will advertise the job opening, and he expects to fill the vacancy before Tessin departs in August.

“Being in this position has been an amazing capstone to my career,” Tessin told the Muscogee County School Board during Monday evening’s monthly work session. “… Thank you for the opportunity. I will continue to work hard to get the school year off and running before I move on to my own school year.”

The board and the audience gave her a standing ovation.

When the applause subsided, Lewis cracked, “I tried to talk her out of it, but who am I to get between her and God?”

District 4 representative Naomi Buckner sparked more laughter when she suggested Tessin should “pray for all of us.”

After the work session, Lewis told the L-E that Tessin is “a consummate professional. . . . I’m so thankful she’s staying on long enough to make the transition into the new school year. She’s been a true wealth of resources and information for me, and she will be terribly missed.”


Also on the agenda are Lewis’ requests for approval to promote two assistant principals. If the majority of the board votes yes at next Monday’s meeting, all of these personnel changes would go into effect next school year:

Gentian Elementary School Assistant Principal Danielle Ernst would replace Jessica Burnett as principal of Gentian. Burnett is being transferred to North Columbus Elementary School, where Principal Gayla Childs is being transferred to Veterans Memorial Middle School to succeed Melanie Knight, who retired this month. Laverne Brown, who retired last year as principal of Georgetown Elementary School, is the temporary principal of Veterans through the end of this school year.

East Columbus Magnet Academy Assistant Principal Kevin Aviles would replace Stephanie Dalton as principal of Forrest Road Elementary School. Dalton is being transferred to Blanchard Elementary School, where Principal Dawn Grantham is retiring.

The Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation surprised the 10 finalists for the annual Teacher of the Year award with a classroom visit. "These kids bring me so much joy every single day," said Shalon Gillespie, of Blackmon Road Middle School.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.