New KEES principal is Blue Devil ‘to core’

The newly-hired interim principal of Kelly Edwards Elementary School may be a new administrator, but she is no stranger to the school or Williston-Elko community.
"I'm a Blue Devil to the core," said Nakeisha Baxley, an Elko native and 1993 graduate of Williston-Elko High School. She has dedicated the past 12 years to teaching second graders at KEES.
The Williston District 29 School Board unanimously approved Baxley's hiring as the interim principal for the 2012-13 school year during a special-called Aug. 9 meeting. She was chosen out of 10 candidates who were interviewed by a team of various school and district employees.
"I am pleased for the opportunity for Ms. Baxley to continue the success at Kelly Edwards and at the same time develop her skill set as a new administrator," said Superintendent Dr. Tom Siler during the meeting.
Baxley, who began her new duties Aug. 10, said she is excited for this new opportunity to serve at the school she has not only taught at, but was once a student in. She said she appreciates Siler and the board for giving her this opportunity to serve her community at the next level because "I have a vested interest in the community."
Her main focus is to continue the same level of academic achievement that has filled the school the past nine years under the leadership of Donna Selvey, who resigned last month to become principal of Barnwell Primary School. "We're going to have an awesome year," said Baxley, who aims to be a "strong, compassionate administrator" like Selvey.
"I have no doubt she'll continue through and keep (KEES) on the same path," said Selvey.
Baxley said she will accomplish that by keeping "what we've found to be successful," including the balanced literacy and math programs, while putting her own touch on the school. She plans to explore grant opportunities to fund afterschool opportunities so students will "have something to do (after school) that's productive," said Baxley.
Success will also come from working together with her teachers, many of whom she's worked with for several years. "If we all just work together, we'll continue to be successful," said Baxley.
Despite her new role, "I'm still the same Keisha," said Baxley, who hopes to strengthen the relationships she's formed as a teacher, while also making new ones.
Board member Doris Young made a motion to approve Baxley's hiring. The motion was seconded by Scotty Richardson and unanimously approved.
Board Chairman Calvin Melton wished Baxley a successful year. "We're here to assist you in any way we can," said Melton.
Siler said Baxley will retain her 190-day teaching contract and receive an additional $5,000 supplement for the coming school year, bringing her total salary to $52,847. The district is currently interviewing candidates to fill Baxley's teaching position.
Baxley and her husband Shawn have two daughters - Shy'Davia, 16, who is a junior at WEHS; and Samelea, 4. She is the daughter of Barbara and James Carter of Williston.
Baxley can be reached at (803) 266-3737 or nbaxley@williston.k12.sc.us.