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Mary Nichols Unanimously Selected as Claxton's Next Principal

A familiar face has been selected as Claxton Elementary School’s next long-term leader.  Mrs. Mary Nichols was unanimously chosen as the school’s new permanent principal.  The Asheville City Board of Education will officially take action during their June 1st meeting.  

     Nichols has served as the school’s interim principal since January and says she’s most looking forward to continuing to build relationships with the Claxton community, especially her parents, students, and staff. 

     “I am finishing my fourth year at Claxton as an administrator, and I care so much about this community.  I feel so fortunate to be able to continue the amazing work our staff, students, and families have already begun,” said Nichols. 

     Nichols has been in education since 2003. 

     She began her career as an art teacher at South Paulding Middle School in Dallas, Georgia before becoming a Gifted and Talented Curriculum Facilitator at the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2008. For five years, Nichols provided professional development on differentiation, curriculum design as well as integrating creativity and higher level thinking into all instruction.  

     In 2013, she became the principal/executive director of Fort Collins’ Rivendell School. During her tenure, she created and managed teacher/staff evaluation systems, increased enrollment by 15% in two years as well as upgraded her school’s security systems with staff training and building remodels funded by specific funding projects.  

     Nichols began her Asheville City Schools tenure in 2015, serving as an Asheville Middle School AIG teacher for one year, before becoming Claxton Elementary School’s assistant principal in August 2016.  Since joining the Claxton Community, Nichols has collaborated with the school’s Instructional Facilitator to implement data analysis protocols with grade-level teams as well as created and sustained systems for staff teams including MTSS, SEL, Social Justice/Equity and The Leader in Me/PBIS/Arts committee.  In collaboration with Claxton staff, she too has designed and executed multiple family engagement events addressing curriculum, arts integration and transitions to the next grade. Additionally, Nichols has been instrumental in decreasing discipline referrals by 36% over a three year period following the implementation of behavior intervention systems coupled with staff training. 

      Nichols became Claxton’s interim principal in January 2020.  In addition to managing financial tasks associated with the principal positions - including state/local funds, school funds, and the PTO budget, she’s created daily “Morning Announcements” during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to foster relationships with students as well as encourage them during this time of at-home learning.  Nichols also worked with Claxton’s Digital Lead Teacher to create content for the school’s digital at-home learning website that houses COVID-19 information during this time of remote learning.  

     “I believe every child deserves engaging, meaningful and rigorous instruction,” said Nichols.  “Our schools offer a safe place for students to grow, both academically as well as socially and emotionally.  Through goal-setting, perseverance, and strong social and emotional skills, our students can be prepared for whatever is next for them.” 

     Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree in Art Education from the University of Georgia as well as her master’s degree in Gifted Education from the University of Northern Colorado. 

     She has also been asked to present at the North Carolina Association for Gifted and Talented Conference in both 2015 and 2019 as well as the Western Region Education Service Alliances’ Leadership Conference in 2019.   

     When asked about her new position, Nichols immediately responded she’s “ready to get started.” 

     “As a Claxton parent myself, I know how important it is for our children to have a positive school experience,” said Nichols.  “Throughout the past four years I have been so impressed with the level of talent and commitment our staff and families demonstrate each and every day in service to the children and am honored to have a chance to lead this community into the next school year.”

     When Nichols is not fully engrossed in principal life, she enjoys drawing, hiking with her family and cheering on her children at their many activities.  Mary is married to Justin Nichols, and together they have two children.  Hazel is a Claxton 2nd Grader, while her son Hank is a Claxton Kindergartener.  Her family’s made complete by her two dogs, Otis and Kirby.