School District Names New Principals, Re-Titles Senior Staff

Staff Writer

The Moore County Board of Education has approved a new round of school principal promotions and hires for the start of the coming school year.

Several northern Moore County schools will be under new leadership in hiring decisions outlined on the personnel report approved by the school board during its business meeting last week. 

At North Moore High, current interim principal Joseph Patterson will be the school’s official principal starting July 1. Patterson was previously an assistant principal at the Robbins-area high school and formerly taught at Union Pines. He became interim principal after Jenny Purvis’ promotion to central office overseeing district operations.

West Pine Elementary assistant principal Jamie Harris-Smith will move to the principal’s office at Robbins Elementary. Former Robbins principal Christine Laurita retired this spring. Lori Sue Driessen, the school’s interim principal, will be an assistant principal split between Cameron and Sandhills Farm Life elementary schools.

Ashley Priest will take over as principal at Elise Middle. Elise now has an interim principal following T.J. Martin’s transfer to Crain’s Creek. Priest is currently an assistant principal at Aberdeen Elementary.

Westmoore Elementary interim principal Janna Kennedy, who has served in that role since last fall, will stay on as the school’s official principal under a new four-year contract starting July 1.

A newcomer to the district will succeed Dante Poole at Aberdeen Elementary. Brandi Kelly has been principal at Moyock Elementary, a 680-student school in Currituck County, since 2017. She previously taught in Harnett County. 

The board’s personnel decisions included extending Carthage Elementary Principal Debbie Warren and Pinehurst Elementary Principal Ashlee Ciccone’s contracts until 2027.

Board members also approved a change in nomenclature for the district’s senior-level executive staff recommended by Superintendent Tim Locklair.

Executive officers of human resources, budget and finance, operations and academics and student support services have all been retitled “assistant superintendents” over those departments.

The chief officer for academics and student support services — Locklair’s previous position, currently held by Mike Metcalf — is now deputy superintendent.

“Most districts across the state use assistant superintendents,” said Charlie Batchelor, the district’s interim director for communications. “It’s so people understand what our roles are here in Moore County Schools as they go out and about throughout the state.” 

Those changes took effect May 9. According to Charlie Batchelor, the district’s interim director for communications, they do not involve any adjustments to salary or job description.

Contact Mary Kate Murphy at (910) 693-2479 or