HUSTONVILLE — For most principals, coming to a new school means a fresh start. For David Morris, however, his first few days at Hustonville Elementary were kind of moldy.
“It was an unusual start,” Morris said of the mold that took hold at the school over the summer and caused opening day for students to be delayed by two days.
Now that the building has been thoroughly scrubbed, declared safe and is filled with students and staff, Morris is getting a chance to settle into his new job.
“I don’t think it set us back too bad,”¿he said. “We’ve had a fabulous start to the school year. We’re getting into instruction and our daily routine.”
Morris, 40, takes over for Marilyn Hafley, who retired after serving 15 years as principal. He’s not planning any major overhaul of the way Hustonville Elementary — which serves pre-school through fifth-grade students — operates.
“Ms. Hafley was very successful here and I don’t need to come in and revamp a system that already works. We’ll just make adjustments as needs arise,” he said.
Morris is new to Lincoln County, but the Campbellsville native has worked as a teacher and administrator throughout central Kentucky, including stops and Boyle and Mercer counties.
Though he now holds three education-related master’s degrees, Morris earned his initial degree in business management from Eastern Kentucky University and began his working life with the Sherwin-Williams paint store chain, managing stores around Kentucky. He switched gears after realizing that his true calling was working with kids, he said.
“I played baseball at Eastern and I had done some coaching and I just wanted to be around kids and have a big impact on kids. I love elementary school, where the kids are in their formative stages and you can see them make a lot of leaps.”
Morris landed his first education job at Boyle County High School in 2001 as a business teacher. He moved on to Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Lexington and then served one-year stints as assistant principal at Bourbon County High and Mercer County Intermediate Center before coming to Hustonville as the main man.
“Mr. Morris is very knowledgeable in curriculum and instructional strategies,” said Superintendent Karen Hatter. “He presented himself as very balanced, as both an administrator and educational leader in the building, which is very important.”
Valerie Sanders, a third-grade teacher at Hustonville, said Morris has made a good early impression.
“I think he’s doing an awesome job so far. He knows his stuff,” Sanders said. “He’s really easy going and approachable. He likes to hear other people’s ideas before he implements something.”
Morris is getting to know his staff and students, and attended his first PTO meeting Tuesday night. Though he’s met some parents who helped clean the school and while working bus duty before and after school, Morris has not yet been formally introduced to the community because an open house scheduled before school started had to be postponed because of the mold issue.
“That’s been my biggest regret, not having an open house before school started,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to meet the community.”
That wil happen soon enough. The open house has been rescheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at the school.