Three New Assistant Principals Announced at HPS

Three New Assistant Principals Announced at HPS
Posted on 09/06/2022
3 APs

Three New Assistant Principals Announced at HPS


HICKORY…  Three new education professionals have been selected as Assistant Principals for Hickory Public Schools: Dawn Leary, Deyonta Thacker, and Taisha Townsend.

Dawn Leary:

Dawn Leary is now serving as the new Assistant Principal for Viewmont Elementary School. Prior to joining Hickory Public Schools, Leary served East Alexander Middle School as the “Exceptional Children Resource and Inclusion” teacher.

Previous classroom experience includes teaching at Lyle Creek Elementary, Rutherford College Elementary, Concordia Christian Day, Balls Creek Elementary, Rock Creek Elementary and Chestnut Elementary.

Her broad and valuable experiences with leading classroom instruction covered multiple subjects while building school leadership teams such as the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team. She led the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), coached the running club, and served as grade level chairperson.

Additionally, Leary was trained in the widely-recognized reading method, the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Her reading instruction resulted with student scores ranking among the top 25 percent in her district and North Carolina. Leary is also certified as a teacher for the Academically or Intellectually Gifted Program.

Leary collaborated with Appalachian State University to develop mentorships and learning opportunities for student teachers while also serving as a facilitator for Rethink Education, helping to improve educational success.

Leary is mother to two daughters, MacKenzie, a sophomore at Converse University, and Madilynne, a junior at Discovery High. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, baking, running and time outdoors, especially working in her yard.

According to Viewmont Principal, Jamie Curtis, Ms. Dawn Leary is a welcomed addition to the school leadership. “All of us at Viewmont would like to welcome Ms. Leary as our new Assistant Principal. She brings a wealth of elementary experience and has done an outstanding job helping to get our school year up and running,” said Curtis. 

An active officer with Delta Kappa Gamma, Leary earned a Master of Arts in School Administration (K-12) from Gardner-Webb University and she earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (K-8) from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Welcome Dawn Leary to

Viewmont Elementary

& Hickory Public Schools!

Deyonta Thacker:

Deyonta Thacker recently joined Grandview Middle School as the new Assistant Principal. Prior to joining Hickory Public Schools, Thacker served as the Assistant Principal for Carolina International School in Concord (grades K-12).

She brings to Grandview extensive professional experience with combined academic administration and data-driven development designed to support faculty growth while benefiting student progress.

With previous leadership roles as Vice Principal at Veritas Community School in Charlotte and Dean of Students and Academic Affairs at Langtree Charter Academy in Mooresville, Thacker’s leadership enhanced academic programs, professional development opportunities for faculty, positive interaction with students and families, and the enforcement of discipline policies.  Thacker supported annual operations to include the administration of financial and personnel protocols and policies.

Additionally, Thacker has trained personnel on effective teaching techniques and classroom management while organizing behavior improvement plans for students who struggle with compliance.  She led efforts to boost student daily attendance while engaging in outreach programs to increase student participation and enrollment.

In her free time, Thacker enjoys spending time with her daughter, Trinity, and her loving family. She also enjoys dancing, interior design, traveling and testing her skills in the kitchen.

According to Grandview Principal, Dr. Tyrone Corlew, Ms. Deyonta Thacker, through her diverse professional journey, offers strong and effective management for her new role as Assistant Principal at Grandview Middle. “She has already begun building relationships with our students and staff. She is a team player and her leadership combined with her expertise will help to propel Grandview Middle School into high levels of student achievement,” said Dr. Corlew.

A proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Thacker earned her Master of Education in Education Leadership from Grand Canyon University with her Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Mass Communication from NC Agricultural and Technical State University. She also holds certifications for School Principals (K-12), Educational Leadership (K-12), and English as a Second Language (ESL).


Welcome Deyonta Thacker

to Grandview Middle

and Hickory Public Schools!

Taisha Townsend:

Taisha Townsend will join Hickory High School as a new Assistant Principal on October 3, 2022.  She is currently serving as the Dean of Students for Walter G. Byers K-8 School with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

As Dean of Students, Townsend serves on both the school’s Leadership Team and Instructional Leadership Team. She manages student transportation and discipline and additionally, she facilitates teacher professional learning and conducts timely and directed evaluations of school staff.

Collaborating with her colleagues to improve the “School Safety Plan,” Townsend, who developed a plan to reduce the number of discipline referrals, observed a decrease in school suspensions by 45 percent and out-of-school suspensions by 30 percent. With her leadership, schoolwide behavior referrals decreased by 25 percent.

Townsend also taught the Principles of Biomedical Science, facilitating forensic labs at Hawthorne Academy of Health Science in Charlotte. During this time, she led the Career Technical Education (CTE) department’s professional learning and coached math teachers to increase rigor and achievement.

Other previous roles include serving for two years as an adjunct professor at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota; teaching science in Iredell Statesville Schools; and she led the science department for the Achievement Schools District Turnaround Program in Memphis, TN.  While teaching middle school science in Memphis, she created a data-tracking system to help students monitor their progress. Her efforts led to students increasing their achievement scores in science by 50 percent.

In Memphis and beyond, Townsend and her school team became celebrities as they were featured on The Ellen (DeGeneres) Show, a result of leading their students to high achievement. The team was awarded a $50,000 check for educational needs. Townsend also received a signed letter from President Barack Obama with recognition of her class project that involved water conservation and recycling efforts.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Donnell, they are the parents of four sons, Donnell (Jr.), Caden, Carson, and Devin. In her spare time, she enjoys attending her son’s athletic events, as well as exercising and cooking; and if time permits, squeezing in Netflix.

According to HHS Principal, Rebecca Tuttle, the entire Tornado family is excited to welcome Ms. Taisha Townsend to Hickory High. “Ms. Townsend brings a long list of expertise with her including discipline management, effective instructional approaches, and the ability to change the culture with her school community. We believe she will utilize her skills to enhance the Tornado program in all aspects,” said Tuttle.

A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Kappa Delta Pi, Townsend is a founding board member of Exquisite Pearls Mentoring Group. She earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Freed-Hardeman University in TN and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from LeMoyne-Owen College in TN. She is also certified in School Administration from UNC-Charlotte.


Welcome Taisha Townsend to

Hickory High

and Hickory Public Schools!


(Post by Beverly Snowden, HPS director of communications)

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