Dougherty County Schools plan for students' return to campus on Aug. 3

The Dougherty County School System’s re-opening plan includes virtual learning for students and provisions to close campuses again if COVID-19 numbers spike.

ALBANY — Chara Willaford, a former principal in Rockdale County, has been named the new principal at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School, while Peach County Principal Anita Mathis will serve as the new principal for Alice Coachman Elementary School for the 2020-21 school year.

Willaford, who currently heads the district’s Leadership and Capacity Department, was named as the principal at Lincoln by the Dougherty County Board of Education following the recommendation of Superintendent Kenneth Dyer. Mathis, who has been an educator since 1995 in districts across the state, will replace Melissa Brubaker who is leaving Alice Coachman.

Willaford will officially take over at Lincoln on July 1, replacing Shawn Davidson who is moving out of state to be closer to family.

“Dr. Willaford is a proven leader and administrator who, I believe, will continue the tradition of academic excellence at Lincoln while engaging parents in new and innovative ways,” Dyer said. “She’s done a yeoman’s job working to get our Leadership Academy off the ground, and I’m sure she’ll carry that same creative spirit into this role at Lincoln.”

As director of Leadership and Capacity, Willaford was tasked with developing the district’s Leadership Academy with the goal of developing the district’s internal talent and grooming them for future leadership positions.

“I am beyond elated to join the Lincoln Elementary Magnet School family. I look forward to working in a spirit of collaboration and excellence with all members of the school community,” Willaford said.

Prior to coming to Dougherty County, Willaford was the principal at Sims Elementary School in Rockdale County Schools, where she served for four years. Prior to that, she served as an assistant principal and as K-12 coordinator for English/Language Arts.

“Dr. Mathis has a great reputation among her colleagues across the state, and I’m confident her experience as an administrator will help the employees and students at Alice Coachman continue to grow,” Dyer said.

Mathis is currently the principal at Trojan Academy Achievement Center. Prior to that, she served as the principal and assistant principal of Hunt Elementary School in Fort Valley. She’s also served as deputy principal and STEM coordinator at Peach County High School, instructional lead teacher at Bloomfield Middle School in the Bibb County School District, assistant principal at Lamar County Middle School in Lamar County Public Schools, an eighth-grade science teacher at Banks Stephens Middle School in Monroe County and a seventh-grade teacher at Stewart-Quitman Middle-High School in Stewart County.

“I am truly honored to serve as principal of Alice Coachman Elementary School,” Mathis said. “As I start on this journey of success with the Alice Coachman Elementary School Community, I think of a quote from the late great Kobi Bryant: ‘The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.’ My mission will be to cultivate a learning environment where students can learn and achieve academically beyond all expectations. I look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders to ensure the vision of Dougherty County Schools: Building a better community, one student at a time.”

Mathis holds a Ph.D. from Mercer University where she also earned her T-7 Georgia Certification. She earned a master’s degree in middle grades education from Fort Valley State University in 1998 and a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education from Fort Valley in 1995.

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