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Counselor picked for MES principal job

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THE RILEY FAMILY James and Monica with children Gemma and River.

By John Balch

News-Leader staff

The South Pike County School Board has stayed in-house again in naming the new Murfreesboro Elementary School principal.

The board voted last week during a special meeting to hire James Riley, current elementary school counselor who has been with the district since 2016.

Riley, 37, of Delight, was picked from a field of 10 applicants and was one of the final four who were interviewed for the job, including current SPC employee Cheyanna Burns, Lisa Posey of Genoa Central and Lisa Cowart of Centerpoint.

The other six applicants included Alvarene Welch of Dierks, Joy Higdon of Lafayette County, Tonya Kinser of Gurdon; Dr. Joshua Kessler of Prescott, Bridgett Asbury of Magazine and Jonathan Watson of Stuttgart.

Riley’s family includes daughter Gemma, son River and wife Monica, who teaches reading to fifth and sixth graders at the Caddo Hills School District.

Prior to being employed at SPC, Riley worked five years for Arkansas Counseling and Psychodiagnostics. He has a master’s degree in school counseling, clinical mental health and building level leadership from Henderson State University.

“I am excited and well-prepared to share my knowledge with the school and maximize the learning experience for students and teachers alike,” Riley wrote in his application.

He added on his resume, “My goal as an educational leader and administrator is to create a positive culture and environment to increase student and staff performance.”

Riley replaces Dr. Arlene Fugitt, who retired from the position earlier this school year.

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