Lawrence County educator begins new journey as East Franklin principal
When Maegan Berryman ended the 2019 school year as a guidance counselor at Hazelwood Elementary School in Lawrence County, she did not imagine herself beginning the new school year as principal of East Franklin Junior High – but not much about her career has gone as she originally expected.
As the daughter of a former principal, Berryman said she never saw herself with a career on the administrative side of education.
“When I was first going back for my masters, my dad told me I should get it in administration,” Berryman said. “Back then I hated the idea and said it was something I never wanted to do.”
Despite her initial hesitancy, Berryman changed her mind when she noticed how many administrative duties came with her job as a guidance counselor. At that point, she said she felt she was ready to take on her first job as principal.
Berryman said she is still working to develop her own style as principal but has been learning about administration for a while.
“I was very lucky to be able to learn from the past two principals that I was under,” Berryman said. “They both had their own style, and they had very different styles, so I was fortunate that I was able to take something new from both of them.”
Franklin County Superintendent Greg Hamilton said he has confidence Berryman will do a great job at East Franklin.
“Coming from a school of a similar size, and she has experience not only as a counselor but as an administrator, she’s the perfect fit for that school,” Hamilton said.
Berryman said she plans to improve test scores and foster an environment where students enjoy learning, without disrupting the way the school is set up.
“What I don’t want to do is just come in and completely change the place,” Berryman said. “I know this is a close knit community and traditions are big.”
Berryman said she is embracing the new school and looks forward to being a part of it.
“I love the small schools, and I love the tight-knit communities,” Berryman said. “I think whenever it is like that, it just makes it one big family.”
East Franklin Junior High houses Pre-K through ninth grade and has 230 students enrolled.
Berryman has previously worked as an elementary teacher and taught seventh- and eighth-grade English, but she said working with ninth graders brings new challenges she is not used to, such as making sure students meet athletic requirements and are prepared academically to progress toward graduation.
Berryman said she is still learning but is proud of how she has performed in the few weeks she has been principal. She said it has been hectic at times because she was hired July 30 before starting her first day as principal July 31 – one day before teachers came back to school.
“I knew I just had to make do with what I could with what little time I had, so that’s what I did,” Berryman said.
Through it all, Berryman said her job is worth it because of the interaction she gets to have with the students.
“I love walking down the hall and getting all of the hugs and high fives and ‘Hi Mrs. Berryman,’” she said. “Working with them every day is what makes the job.”