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Former RMS principal takes on new role at Tharptown

After working as principal of Russellville Middle School for four years, Karen Thorn decided it was time to tackle a new challenge and take on a role she had never filled before: elementary principal.

“A lot of the times, change can be good because it forces us to get out of our comfort zone and find new ways we can grow and new ways to serve,” Thorn said. “I don’t say it’s a challenge, but I think it’s a growth opportunity for me.”

Thorn is beginning her 24th year in education, with 11 years of experience as a teacher at Red Bay and 12 years of experience in the Russellville City Schools system.

Thorn said although she knows there is a transition with any job, she does not see much of a transition because her primary focus is still taking care of students.

“At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about, and that’s what my primary focus is on: doing what is right for the kids,” Thorn said.

Thorn said it was tough beginning her role as principal two weeks before school started, but she is staying one day ahead. She said there have been times when it has been a struggle to accomplish everything, but she is lucky to have a great team around her.

She said she calls the first few weeks before school begins “the paperwork days,” but once school starts back and students fill the halls, everything falls in place.

“She’s an amazing administrator, and we are just really lucky to have her,” said FCS Superintendent Greg Hamilton. “We are just really lucky to have her back in Franklin County. There’s no doubt about the type of job she is going to do.”

Thorn said although she has never served as elementary principal before, she feels prepared to begin her job at Tharptown because of the similar school size and diversity she experienced at Russellville Middle School. She said working with a diverse population at Russellville taught her a lot about communication and making sure all students’ needs are met.

“I believe in those children,” Thorn said. “They have a right to learn, and they will learn, and they will meet our expectations.”

She said her job as principal is unique because she gets to work with all students. Her favorite part about working with students, she added, is watching them mature in their time in school. “It’s like having one of your own children and seeing them learn and grow.”

Thorn said she has a lot of plans for things she wants to accomplish in her time at Tharptown Elementary School and is excited to see what this school year brings.

“I’m going to learn a lot more from the teachers and students this year than they are going to learn from me, so I’m just excited to see what they are going to teach me,” Thorn said.