School leadership changes announced

Leadership changes at Hilton Head Island Elementary
Posted on 09/06/2016
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

School leadership changes announced
at Hilton Head Island Elementary School

BEAUFORT – A veteran assistant principal has been named as principal at Hilton Head Island Elementary School.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that Sarah Owen, an assistant principal at three Hilton Head Island schools over the past seven years, will assume her new role immediately.  She replaces Jill McAden, who will take charge of the Beaufort County School District’s efforts to recruit classroom teachers for elementary-level classrooms.

“Ms. Owen has very strong experience in instruction and in working with children from diverse backgrounds,” Moss said.  “Another plus is that she already knows the Hilton Head community well from her extensive work on the island.” 

A 20-year career educator, Owen began her career as a fifth-grade teacher in Texas.  She began work in the Beaufort County School District in 2002 with teaching positions first at M.C. Riley Elementary (fifth grade) and later at Bluffton Elementary (English Speakers of Other Languages). 

From 2006 to 2014, Owen served as the district’s coordinator of services for ESOL and gifted and talented students.  At various times from 2010 until today, she has served as an assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Elementary, Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts and Hilton Head Island Early Childhood Center.  She also served as an interim principal at Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts.

“I’m very excited because Hilton Head Island Elementary is where I first worked as an assistant principal, it’s where my two children went to school and where one still attends,” Owen said.  “It’s a school that combines many of my passions about education, particularly the International Baccalaureate approach, ESOL and language and gifted programs.”

Owen has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Fitchburg State College, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas and an Education Specialist degree from South Carolina State University.

McAden has been principal at Hilton Head Island Elementary for 10 years and a teacher there for seven.  Moss said that her experience as a classroom teacher and a principal – not to mention her familiarity with Beaufort County – will be valuable assets in her new position.

“We hired nearly 300 new classroom teachers for this school year alone,” Moss said.  “That was due to a combination of teachers who moved out of the district with their families, or teachers who changed professions or retired.  And because so many are from the Baby Boom generation, we can expect to see our retirement numbers increase in the next few years.

“Every teacher who leaves means a new teacher we have to recruit.  And on top of that, we have to recruit teachers for the hundreds of new students who move into Beaufort County each year.  Ms. McAden will be at the heart of directing those efforts.”

Moss said that the district is searching for an additional staffer who will focus on recruiting middle and high school teachers, particularly in math, science and special education.

McAden began her education career as an elementary-level teacher at schools in Atlanta and Columbus, Ga.  She directed two private preschool programs before becoming a classroom teacher at Hilton Head Island Elementary, where she taught for six years before being named an assistant principal at the school in 2005.  After two years as an assistant principal, she was named principal in 2007.

“My years at Hilton Head Elementary have been the most rewarding of my career,” McAden said.  “We have such a wonderful staff and terrific students and supportive parents.  But while I’m sad to be leaving, I’m also excited about the challenges that my new responsibilities will bring.”

McAden graduated from Converse College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education, and she also has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Cambridge College.