LMS hires new leader

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McRay has served as interim principal since January

By Stevie Lowery

Becoming principal at Lebanon Middle School was not part of Christina McRay’s plan when she began serving as its interim principal in January.
In fact, she was apprehensive about serving as interim.
“My whole entire career was in high school,” McRay said. “That was my gig. That was my comfort zone.”
Before becoming an assistant principal at Marion County High School in 2010, McRay was a business education teacher for eight and a half years at Bullitt Central High School. She also served as the chair for the career and technical education department for four years at Bullitt Central High School and was voted Teacher of the Year there in 2007-08.
McRay was able to return to her alma mater, Marion County High School, in February of 2010 as assistant principal, and it’s a job she loved. So, when Marion County Superintendent Taylora Schlosser asked her to serve as interim principal at Lebanon Middle, McRay was nervous.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself to step out of my comfort zone and do it,” she said. “But she believed in me, and I had a lot of other support. So I said yes.”
According to McRay, it’s been the best professional growth opportunity she’s ever experienced.
“I’ve grown more professionally in the last four months than I have in the last five years,” she said.
It’s been such a positive experience that she decided to apply for the principal position after all.
“At first, I wasn’t convinced that I needed to apply. In the back of my mind I wanted to but I wasn’t sure I needed to until just recently,” McRay said. “I had a lot of support from the staff, excellent feedback from the kids and from the parents. When you have parents of middle school kids saying, ‘I hope you stay,’ it means a lot.”
The Lebanon Middle Site-Based Decision Making Council unanimously selected McRay as the new principal during its meeting on Wednesday, April 16.
McRay is beyond excited, and said she has “huge” shoes to fill. Todd Farmer, who was principal at LMS for nine years before becoming the director of federal programs at central office, had things rolling like a well-oiled machine, she said.
“Lebanon Middle School has made huge gains thanks to Mr. Farmer’s nine years of leadership and my goal is to continue that momentum and continue the excellence that is Lebanon Middle,” McRay said.
She said she’s extremely thankful to the site-based council for their trust in her to lead the school.
“I kind of feel like I’ve been on a three and a half month audition,” McRay said, laughing. “I didn’t come with an audition frame-of-mind. But, God works in mysterious ways.”
McRay believes her communication skills, her teamwork attitude and her open door policy will be a good fit for Lebanon Middle’s staff, students and parents.
“We have an awesome staff who really genuinely care about kids… Not just their content but their kids,” she said. “They care about their kids’ lives. They care if their kids are successful or not. They take it to heart if their child is struggling. And we have awesome kids. They’re just awesome. They’re my friends’ and neighbors’ kids, and that means a lot to me.”
Lebanon Middle, which was one of only 13 schools statewide named one of the “Schools to Watch” last year, has an expectation of excellence and a high regard for success, McRay said.
“It’s awesome, but it’s a challenge,” she said.
However, she’s confident in the staff at Lebanon Middle and their abilities to continue moving the students and the school forward.
“The staff know what their goals are, and no matter who sits in this seat they’re going to get the job done,” McRay said.
And while McRay’s career has revolved around working with high school students, she actually thinks that will benefit her and how she communicates with middle school students about succeeding in high school.
“I can look at these eighth graders and say, ‘I know what it takes to be successful up there. I know what you need to do,’” she said.
And she realizes that middle school students are at a pivotal moment in their educational career.
“This age level needs passion and excitement. They need someone who believes in them,” McRay said. “I have a theory that this is the make or break point for some kids in education. They either learn to love learning or they learn to hate it. It’s my goal that every child will love learning and we can do that for them here.”
Challenging students academically and making sure they have what they need to be successful is the ultimate goal, and meeting that goal is about far more than just test scores, McRay said.
“I want us to be a school that’s not just about our test scores because they don’t define us,” she said. “But, they are what we live by so we work really hard to get kids ready… and to instill that sense of urgency that everything I do every day is important.”
Superintendent Schlosser, who hired McRay as an assistant principal at MCHS back in 2010, said she’s extremely proud of her and is confident that her positive and enthusiastic attitude will serve Lebanon Middle well.
“She knows exactly what middle school students need to be successful at the next level,” she said. “She is ambitious and wants to see Lebanon Middle be the best.”
McCray is a long-time resident of Marion County and lives in Raywick. She is married to Todd McRay and has a 15-year-old daughter, Alyssa, and 9-year-old son, Mason.