Derrick Maxwell

Derrick Maxwell

Winder-Barrow High School has a new "interim" principal, one who has some experience.

Derrick Maxwell, who was hired in October as the Barrow County School System's “strategic initiative coordinator,” has replaced Al Darby, who graduated from Winder-Barrow and has now moved to the district's central office.

Maxwell has the “interim” tag on his title. He will hold the job for the remainder of the year. He also will be a candidate for the permanent job.

Maxwell was the principal at Cedar Shoals High School in Clarke County when he was hired by the Barrow County Board of Education. He had been at that school since 2018. He is in his 18th year in education.

Cedar Shoals has about 1,600 students and Winder-Barrow has about 2,100. Maxwell said he expects to lose about 300 students to the new Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy.

Maxwell also was the principal at Commerce Middle School for two years. It was his second tenure at Cedar Shoals. He had been an assistant principal there.

Darby will be the “chief administrative officer for athletics and student activities” on a district-wide level. He will be in the support services department, where Ken Greene is the assistant superintendent.

Darby had been principal at Winder-Barrow for 11 years.

Maxwell has an educational specialist degree. He said he is “taking a break” from working on his doctorate. He has done educational work at the University of Georgia, George Washington University, Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee and Valdosta State University.

He candidly said he did not expect the “strategic coordinator” job to last more than the current year. He said he “took a chance” taking that position.

He said he was “pretty much unhappy with the district leadership” in Clarke County.

Since October, Maxwell said he had been supporting both Darby and Dale Simpson, principal at the new Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy, which opens in August.

He said he had been working part-time at Winder-Barrow and on BASA items at Sims Academy and the central office, doing “just whatever they needed.”

Maxwell said a part of the job at Winder-Barrow is to understand the traditions there. He noted that 39 members of the staff graduated from the school.

He said he could bring a “different perspective” to the school, using some of the experience he gained in Clarke County.

Maxwell said he had seen “many” students go to college who predictions would say had no chance. He said the dual enrollment program, allowing students to take high school and college classes, “show kids it’s (college) possible.”

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