Billies administration set to tackle new school year


As the 2023-2024 school year begins, the staff at the Advance wanted to take a moment to highlight the administrators from Monticello School District as they gear up for the new year. With 14 administrators spanning four school campuses, the children of Monticello Schools are in good hands.

Angela Maize is the Principal at Monticello Elementary School. Maize joined the MES team on July 1. Prior to coming to Monticello, she was the principal at Noble Elementary in Hamburg. She also served as dean of students, assistant principal, and elementary principal for four years during her employment in Hamburg. Her teaching career began in Monticello where she spent seven and a half years.

Maize received her Bachelor’s of Education in Early Childhood Education and her Masters of Education from the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She received her Educational Specialist degree in Building Level Administration from Arkansas State University, and she will complete her Educational Doctorate in May 2024.

Maize is also a Master Educator and has achieved National Board Certification and is a graduate of the Arkansas Leadership Academy’s teacher and assistant principal institutes.

She is a published author and professional development presenter. She and her husband have two daughters.

Anthony Jackson serves as the Assistant Principal at MES. He is a native of Fordyce who began serving as the assistant principal in July 2019. Prior to becoming an administrator, he spent 19 years working in the K-2 classroom setting. He has taught kindergarten, first, and second grade, and has been Dean of Students for grades Pre-K-Fourth.

Jackson earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from UAM and his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University.

“Entering my 16th year at Monticello, I’m just as excited a I was on day one,” Monticello Intermediate School Principal Blake Abbott said. “My family is key to my motivation each day. My wife and kids keep me focused on the most important parts of life. I have been able to serve in many rolls as a Billie. I have worked in the after school program while in college, interned and taught 6th-8th grade at the middle school, and served as the assistant principal for three years before leading as the principal for the last five years. We focus on student growth each day. We are proud of our student’s and our staff’s growth each year and love to celebrate our growth! Monticello is a wonderful and supportive community to serve in and we’re proud to put our energy into investing towards our community’s future.”

Kim Smith serves as the Assistant Principal at MIS. She began as assistant principal in August 2018. She began her teaching career at Monticello Middle School in 2013, where she taught 6th grade Mathematics. From 2014-2016, she served as Lead Teacher for the 6th grade team.

Smith earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Level Education from UAM. During college she served on the Middle Level Educators Board for the state of Arkansas. In 2018 she earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from UAM.

Kenny Pace begins his 36th year in the Monticello School District, all of which have been spent at Monticello Middle School. Pace began his administrative career in 2015 as the assistant principal at MMS. Prior to that he was hired as the Jr. Billies Head Basketball Coach from 1988-1999, and moved to the Jr. Billies Head Football Coach from 1999-2015.

Pace is a life long Billie who began the first grade at W.C. Whaley Elementary in 1970. He graduated from Monticello in 1982. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health/Physical Education in 1988 at UAM, where he was a four year starter for the baseball team. He earned 2nd Team All Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference honors his senior year. In 2002, he returned to UAM and earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership which he completed in 2005.

Pace married his high school sweetheart in 1989, who is a teacher of 39 years as well, and they have two children.

MMS assistant principal Kelly Rodriguez has been a part of the MMS family since 2013 when she was hired to teach Business Education Classes. Before coming to MMS, she taught 6th-8th grade English and 7th grade Social Studies in south Louisiana where she and her husband moved after graduating from UAM in 2007. After returning to Monticello, Rodriguez obtained her Master’s Degree from Southern Arkansas University, and would go on to complete her Educational Specialist Degree from SAU in 2019.

Rodriguez and her husband have three daughters who attend Monticello schools, and they can be found cheering on the Billies at sporting events.

Monticello High School has a new principal this year. Jacob Lanehart comes to Monticello with 16 years of experience as an educator.

Lanehart obtained his undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University. He earned a Master’s in Education from UAM. He got his PK-12 Educational Leadership Certificate from Arkansas State University, and is now working on acquiring a Superintendent’s Certification from ASU as well.

Lanehart comes to Monticello after spending 13 years in the Star City school system. 11 of those years he served as a building administrator. He also spent three years serving as principal at Dumas High School, where he was also District Athletic Director.

“I am very honored to begin this year as the principal of MHS, where high expectations for learning in a positive educational culture are the norm,” Lanehart said. “My goal is to continue the great traditions here at MHS, and I will work diligently to graduate students who have the skills to be successful in today’s world.”

MHS’s assistant principal is Cody Rowland. He is beginning his third year as assistant principal. Prior to serving as an administrator, Rowland taught math and was a coach for both Monticello and Star City.

Along side these principals, there are several other administrators who help keep things running smoothly at Monticello Schools. One of these is Athletic Director Blair Brown. Brown has been with Monticello for eight years, but has a total of 36 years in education. During this time he has served many roles. He has been a teacher, coach, head coach, and held many administrative positions.

Brown graduated from Monticello High School in 1981, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree from UAM in 1986. He received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Henderson State in 1997.

Dawn Campagna steps into a new role as Special Education Director this year. She is returning to Monticello schools after serving as the Special Education Director for both Drew Central and Fordyce school districts through the Southeast Arkansas Education Cooperative.

From 1995-2003 Campagna taught business classes at the high school.

She began her educational career in 1992 as a Career Orientation and Keyboarding teacher in Dermott. In 2003, her family relocated to Olive Branch while her husband attended Mid-America Seminary. While in Olive Branch, she taught second and third grade Special Education. In 2006 they returned to Arkansas, and she spent the next seven years with the Co-Op.

Campagna earned an Associate’s Degree in Office Administration from Henderson State, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Education. She received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from UAM, and her Education Specialist Degree from University of Mississippi in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education.

Stephanie Brown serves the district as Director of Student Services. She has been in education for 22 years with 21 of those being in the Monticello School District. She served as a middle school math teacher for 14 years before spending the last eight years in administration.

Brown earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from UAM in 1988 and worked in accounting for 10 years. In 2002, Brown returned to UAM and completed a degree in Master of Arts in Teaching.

Dr. Bettye Gragg serves as the district’s Federal Programs Coordinator, Direct Assessment Coordinator,Grievance Coordinator, English as a Second Language Coordinator, 504 District Coordinator, and several other positions.

Dr. Gragg has been an educator in the Monticello School District for more than 50 years. She has covered various grade levels, been a teacher, counselor,  supervisor, and an administrator.

Dr. Gragg earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from UAM in 1979 with a major in Elementary Education and certifications in Early Childhood and Middle School Social Studies. She earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Fayetteville in 1982. She further received a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1989. In 1998, she graduated with a Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision with certificates in Superintendency and Administration.

Dr. Gragg has served the community in various ways as well. She has served on numerous committees and commissions over the years.

“I’ve served in the education arena because I enjoy learning and teaching, and most of all, because I want all students to learn and feel the joy and excitement of learning,” Dr. Gragg said. “My high school principal, Sadie Johnson, challenged me to break her record of 48 years of service in education. I took her challenge because she inspired me to think and believe that learning never ends.”

Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Clint Jones began serving in this role in 2021. Prior to coming to Monticello, Dr. Jones served as the director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy, which is housed at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Dr. Jones began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Alief Taylor High School in Houston, Texas. In 2006, the Jones family returned to Arkansas where he served as principal for the County Line School District, where he would later be superintendent.

In 2012, Dr. Jones moved to Farmington where he would serve as an assistant superintendent. In 2014, he moved to Huntsville, where he served as the superintendent for the next four years.

During his time as director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy, he also served as an assistant professor of Educational Leadership in the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions. In addition, Dr. Jones served as an adjunct professor of Educational Leadership for Harding University and Arkansas Tech University.

Dr. Jones earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science from Harding University, his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Houson-Victoria, an Educational Specialist Degree from Harding University, and his doctorate in School Leadership from Arkansas Tech University.

“I am extremely proud to serve this district as superintendent,” Sandra Lanehart, Monticello School District Superintendent, said. “The Monticello School District continues to do amazing things for our students, staff, and community. We have some of the top academic scores in the region, having increased math and literacy scores across multiple grade levels. Our faculty and staff continue to focus on relationships, collaboration, communication, and above all, they put the students first on a daily basis. MSD also has some of the finest facilities in the region. We are currently building a new arena and MHS addition, a new tennis facility, and upgrading our softball field with turf. In addition, we implemented new safety features, upgraded existing safety equipment, and employed two SROs to ensure the safety and security of our campuses. The Monticello School District will continue our commitment to offering the best educational opportunities and learning environment for all of our students.”

Lanehart enters her ninth year as superintendent at Monticello.


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