The leaders of Buckhead’s only public middle and high schools are stepping down.
North Atlanta Principal Howard “Gene” Taylor and Sutton Middle Principal Audrey Sofianos turned in their letters of resignation this week. Both resignations are effective June 30.
Taylor did not immediately return a phone call and an email to his office seeking comment Thursday morning, but in a letter to parents, students and the community, Taylor wrote he will miss working at the school.
“I am deeply saddened that our time together has not been longer,” he wrote. “However, for the remainder of our time together, I will continue to do as I have done every day since becoming your principal — give you my all toward making North [Atlanta] — the direction to excellence for all of our students.”
Taylor has been principal at the school since October 2012, when he was hired days before interim Principal Mary MyGrant and his leadership team were removed from the school. Taylor also resigned in September, effective Dec. 1, to take the principal job at Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County, where he had previously served as principal at Lilburn Middle School.
Within days of announcing his departure, Taylor was promoted to the Atlanta district’s North Region executive director, but at the Atlanta Board of Education meeting where his promotion was to be approved, District 4 member Nancy Meister’s motion to approve it was not seconded, thus denying it. Taylor then rescinded his resignation and decided to remain at North Atlanta - until now.
In his letter Taylor also praised the school for its progress.
“Having reached an 80 percent four-year graduation rate in 2013, with approximately half of our students receiving federally subsidized meals, North Atlanta High School has achieved one of the highest graduation rates in the state, but especially among Title I schools,” he wrote.
Sofianos, in her seventh year as Sutton’s principal, turned in her letter of resignation Tuesday. She said Thursday she is leaving the school “to focus my efforts on my house and my family.”
“It’s a refocus on my health,” Sofianos said. “I do not have another job lined up nor am I seeking another job. I have no plans to seek another job for the next year. I am not going to work full-time anywhere. If there’s anywhere where I can be of service in a part-time or voluntary service position, I am very open to that. I do plan on volunteering at our North cluster area at Sutton and possibly other schools. I do want to remain committed as a Sutton ambassador or supporter.”
Sofianos said the school does not have a replacement in mind yet and she plans to help find one.
“I’m working closely with our local school council, PTA, teaching and other staff and our executive director to find a replacement,” she said. “I want to have a very transparent and smooth transition. I’m here to help. I love this school and love these kids and want to be … as helpful as possible.”
In a letter Sofianos sent home with students to their parents earlier this week, she praised the school for its academic success.
“During my tenure the school has grown from 873 students to over 1,500,” she wrote. “We have shown a steady upward trend of achievement under my leadership, with an increase in student opportunities for all kids in academics, athletics and arts. We also have a high level of business and community support, increasing in interaction and commitment each year.”
Sofianos said she will miss Sutton’s students.
“I’ve gone to the North Atlanta High School graduation my entire tenure here and plan to do that [each year],” she said. “I want [Sutton’s students] to do well in high school and beyond. I plan to stay close to the community.”