DANVILLE — The Danville District 118 officials announced the names of two new principals and an assistant principal during a special school board meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Garfield Elementary School Principal Justin Thorlton was named as principal of Northeast Elementary Magnet School. He replaces Markesha Parker who resigned July 16.
Nicole Zaayer, who just last week was named assistant principal at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy, will become principal at Garfield Elementary School.
Danville High School’s lead guidance counselor Amanda Campbell was named assistant principal at DHS, replacing Mitzi Campbell who was named last week as principal of Bailey Academy.
Thorlton has worked in District 118 for 18 years. He taught kindergarten for one year at Cannon Elementary School and then taught art for 10 years at South View Middle School. He became a data instructional facilitator next for a half year at South View and for two years at Edison Elementary School. He was a dean at North Ridge Middle School for a half year, assistant principal at South View for a year and Garfield’s principal for a year.
An avid runner and physical fitness buff, Thorlton said he believes Northeast and its healthy living initiatives with its students will be a good fit for him.
“I run marathons and half marathons, and I try to work out and be healthy,” he said, adding that he competed in his first Spartan Race that combines running with obstacle courses.
Ironically, Thorlton will have to hit the ground running as Northeast’s principal, especially since the first day for the teachers at the balanced-calendar school is Friday.
“I will try to get to know the staff, students and families and build relationships with everyone,” he said.
“The structure of Northeast is already in place, but I’m all about climate and culture,” he said. “Once that’s in place, everything will be easier.”
Superintendent Alicia Geddis said Thorlton’s “specialty” is “building positive climate and culture and having positive relationships with students and staff.
“He’s into fitness and he likes to run,” she noted.
Thorlton said he also looks forward to being involved with a year-round school.
“I think it will be great. Balanced calendar is good for students and staff,” he said.
Thorlton added, “I appreciated my time at Garfield. It has great students, staff and families.”
Zaayer has been with District 118 since 2007, first teaching middle school math at South View for a year, and second grade for two years and third grade for a half year at Southwest Elementary School.
She became the district’s first math coach and spent three-and-a-half years in that position before becoming a data instructional facilitator at Garfield Elementary School for three-and-a-half years, a year split between Garfield and Edison schools and a year at Meade Park Elementary School.
Last school year, she was an administrative intern at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy.
“I did my student teaching at Garfield, so my whole career started at Garfield,” Zaayer said, adding that her mother also had attended Garfield as a child. “Garfield has been in my heart for a while. I’m very excited to be back home with the staff and students.”