Maxwell’s mark

Derrick Maxwell has been a part of the Cedar Shoals family since 2016 when he started as an interim principal, returning in 2018 as the principal. For a second time, Derrick Maxwell will leave his post as principal of Cedar Shoals High School, but this time his departure is permanent.

“I think that Cedar is going in the right direction fast and I think that as more students get involved and stick with it it can be the place that we want it to be. Cedar has got a lot of love and it’s got a strong soul, if walls can have that, but I just feel like it is a very resilient body of individuals,” Maxwell said. “I will still come back and visit and go to games and graduations and things like that. It is just a real strong community. It’s hard to leave this place. I’ve done it twice. The first time was hard too.”

On October 17, Maxwell announced his resignation to the Cedar Shoals community through an email. He will be taking a new job as Strategic Initiative Administrator for Barrow County Schools.

A Farewell to Maxwell: Derrick Maxwell poses for a photo on his last Friday at Cedar Shoals. “I love the students, I just want them to know that, and the teachers are great and the admin team is strong, the office staff is great, security staff, lunchroom, custodial, everyone is good to go here,” Maxwell said. Photo and caption by Coriander McGreevy.

“The whole of Cedar did feel it when he announced he’s leaving so he definitely made a big impact,” senior Peace Abhieyighan said.

Having worked in Clarke County School District for 18 years as a substitute teacher, a teacher, and an assistant principal at Burney Harris Lyons, and a principal at both Whit Davis and Cedar, the announcement of his resignation caused many reactions throughout the Cedar community.

“I was shocked. I did not know what to think, honestly, he was the best principal I’ve ever had like for real,” senior Aaliyah Candley said.

“I was really happy for him and where his next steps would take him, where he would have more time to focus on himself and his family,” Mrs. Katie Johnson, English department, said.

Despite leaving suddenly, many teachers and students feel he served Cedar well.

“He was a big part of us going back to a sense of school pride. He emphasized for faculty and staff to embrace each other and I felt like a lot of support was back in the building,” Jessica Lonon, business technology teacher, said.

“I think he cared about just building relationships and bonds with the students so he was a really good principal. He was like a friend or more like a father figure to most people,” senior Yasmine Daniel said.

Maxwell leaves behind many relationships he built as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal.

“His greatest strengths were understanding our kids, understanding who they were as a community and was not afraid to dive into peoples’ lives. I think that it is really important as an educator, to know who you are teaching,” Jimmy Blose, Special Education department chair, said.

“He supported the sports programs and the athletic department, he was almost at every football game, every track meet, he supported the volleyball team. He was there, he was a principal that communicated with students,” junior football player Stanley Smith said.

The majority of the teachers and students feel he made a positive impact at Cedar.

“His impact was, in terms of the culture and morale of the building, I think it has been improving and I think that there are numbers that show that we are improving in key areas,” Mr. Chris Hulse, English department, said.

“I think he made a huge impact that we can learn with people and be close with teachers because they are trying to help make sure students are safe and make it so we want to come to school,” senior Marquevious Wallace said.

The feelings are scattered when looking towards the future. Some feel worried, while others stay positive.

“Teachers, students, and administrators gotta step up, we have to learn to behave and everything will run smooth,” Smith said.

“I have enough faith in the people I work with, the teachers and the administration and everyone that is going to be here through the end of the year, that we can come together and navigate anything,” Hulse said. 

Tuesday October 29 is Maxwell’s last day at Cedar. The two co-interim principals Mr. Derricotte and Mr. Carter will take over after October 29.

“I will always be an Athens resident, I have kids in the school system. I will always be a community member now, I’m not going away. The students need to know that there is nothing they did wrong to have anything to do with this decision, the events didn’t have anything to do with this decision, the teachers, nothing about Cedar shoals is wrong enough for me to leave,” Maxwell said.