Athletic director Brandon “Rock” Jernigan and Melanie Helms are new assistant principals at Pierce County High School.

Jernigan and Helms were tapped for their new positions during the school board’s regular monthly work session last Tuesday morning. The action came after a 36 minute closed door session to discuss personnel. The meeting was moved ahead two days owing to the traditional summer conference of the Georgia School Board Association, but the GSBA meeting was canceled this year due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).  

Jernigan will continue in his role as athletic director and Helms will also serve as an instructional coach.

The pair will share the position vacated when current assistant principal Kelly Murray was promoted to principal at PCHS. Murray replaced Dara Bennett, who was recently named superintendent of schools.

Jernigan will receive $4,000 as a supplement for assistant principal, $5,000 as a supplement for athletic director, $1,500 as a supplement for field maintenance director and 40 days extended year. Helms will receive a $1,500 supplement for assistant principal, $250 supplement for instructional coach and 15 days extended year.

Jernigan has been athletic director for all Pierce County High School sports for the past three years and earned Athletic Director of the Year for all three years.

Jernigan has been teaching/coaching for 21 years – the last 12 years in Pierce County. He has served as both the defensive and offensive coordinator along with assistant head coach in football and has also been the head wrestling coach.

Jernigan and his wife, Angela, have three sons, Ashton, Avery and Austin.

Helms is currently the assistant principal at Waycross Middle School. A native of Patterson, she has been an educator for 26 years, teaching math at both Clinch County High and Ware County High Schools. She has been serving as assistant principal at Waycross Middle School for the past eight years.

She holds bachelor’s, masters and specialist’s degrees, all from Valdosta State University.

She is the mother of two daughters, Kella and Mallory.

Additional personnel action was also taken at Tuesday’s work session.

The board voted to hire May Douberly as a receptionist/secretary at the central office and Virginia Foster as a part-time secretary for the month of June. Foster recently retired.

The board also approved Starr Harris as assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach at the high school with a supplement of $1,000.

An assistant football coach position will not be filled at the high school this year. The 10 extended year days for the position are being assigned to Barry King and Russell Rothar, both assistant coaches at the high school.

The board also approved the resignations of Gladwin Harper, physical education teacher, Dr. Catherine Pickren, music teacher, and Jennifer Murray, administrative assistant/secretary, all at Blackshear Elementary.