Dunwoody High School Principal Tom McFerrin announced July 27 in an email to parents and supporters that he is stepping down as the school’s principal. He will be taking a new job as the DeKalb County School District’s Career Technical and Agricultural Education coordinator.
McFerrin said in his email that was distributed today that “it is with a heavy heart that I inform my Dunwoody family about my departure as principal of Dunwoody High School.” He goes on to state that he will remain principal until a replacement has been appointed. When a new principal will be named is not known, but will include input from families of current students, he said.
McFerrin was named Dunwoody High School’s principal in 2014. He attended DHS as a student, was a teacher at the school and also served as assistant principal of instruction before becoming principal.
In an interview, McFerrin said he found out Monday, July 24, that he got the job he had applied for earlier this year.
“This opportunity came up, I saw it posted and I’ve always been passionate about that program,” he said. “This is a great way to reach all the students of DeKalb County.”
McFerrin acknowledged leaving DHS was “bittersweet” but that he was also excited for new challenges in his career and to help the CTAE department showcase all of DeKalb’s students.
As a teacher at DHS, McFerrin said he was part of the push in the early 2000s to add the Academy of Mass Communications at the school and worked first-hand at that time with CTAE staff to develop a curriculum for the program. That experience led him to appreciate the mission of the program.
“I’m up for the challenge … and I’ll still be in DeKalb and working with DHS,” he said. “Of course this is bittersweet, but I’m super excited for this new opportunity.
“It was not an easy decision, but I really love new opportunities and the chance to challenge myself,” he said.
McFerrin said DHS’s leadership in the classrooms and at the administrative level are in a “good place” and he expects the school, the students and staff to continue to excel.
“Great things are happening there and they will keep it moving,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to miss DHS, but this is a great opportunity and … this will broaden my leadership experience in the district.”
DeKalb County Board of Education member Stan Jester, who lives in Dunwoody and represents Dunwoody on the school board, said McFerrin will be “sorely missed.”
“Since he became principal in 2014, the school’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores have gone through the roof and many students have come back to DHS from private schools,” Jester said. “He will be sorely missed by the community.”
In his email, McFerrin said “parents of currently enrolled DHS students will have an opportunity to provide input on their preferred leadership attributes through a survey that will be delivered through Infinite Campus.” Those needing to update their Infinite Campus email address are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Dunwoody City Councilmember Pam Tallmadge, who attended DHS and has three children who graduated from DHS, congratulated McFerrin on his move but also said she will miss his leadership.
“I have known Tom for many years, since the late ’90s. Tom is advancing his career, and moving into a field he knows well. I wish him all the best,” she said.
“The key to a school’s success is the principal. One who can bring the community and school together, as well as maintaining and hiring good teachers, staff and creating a happy-healthy atmosphere; which is best for our kids,” she said. “That is a true gift that Tom McFerrin has and he has done for Dunwoody High School.”
Councilmember Terry Nall also praised McFerrin’s leadership at DHS and thanked him for “a job well done.”
“Communities and schools go together as a hand-in-glove. Dunwoody High School has long been one of the pillars of Dunwoody,” Nall said. “Over the years, our Dunwoody community benefited with Tom McFerrin in his many school roles. As principal at DHS, he nurtured top notch staff for our students’ educational success and focused on culture and climate for our students’ personal success. The positive results were dramatic, as the College and Career Ready Performance Index increased from 73.6 to 93.4 during his principal tenure.
“I believe his greatest gift was teaching our students about the potential within themselves to achieve more than they imagined was possible,” Nall added. “While Mr. McFerrin may be leaving Dunwoody, his legacy gift remains with our students. I know our students will continue to unleash their potential to achieve personal success.”
Added Councilmember Doug Thompson, “Tom McFerrin did a wonderful job as principal of Dunwoody High School. It is my hope that the next principal will serve Dunwoody just as well.”
My journey as a Dunwoody High School Wildcat began as a student, then a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, and now as your principal. Therefore, after working in the Dunwoody cluster for twenty-two years, it is with a heavy heart that I inform my Dunwoody family about my departure as principal of Dunwoody High School. While I will always feel connected to this community, I am taking advantage of an opportunity to serve Dunwoody High School and the DeKalb County School District as a Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) coordinator.
With my teaching experience and expertise in career education, this new role is an exceptional opportunity that will broaden my leadership experience in the district. I am excited about this new position, and I am pleased to be able to impact not only the continued success of the Dunwoody cluster of schools, but all of the schools in the DeKalb County School District.
I will remain in my current role as principal of Dunwoody High School until a replacement has been appointed. Parents of currently enrolled DHS students will have an opportunity to provide input on their preferred leadership attributes through a survey that will be delivered through Infinite Campus. If your Infinite Campus email address needs to be updated, please contact the attendance office by email at email@example.com before Tuesday, Aug. 1.
I will forever cherish the relationships I have built with the students, staff, and community over the years and I will continue to be involved on some level because Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat.
Thank you for the support you have given me. I’ll be around, so stay in touch!