BARTOW – There will be a new face at Bartow High School International Baccalaureate when students return to school in August.
Former principal Brenda Hardman has resigned and Brian Andrews, the principal of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, has been tapped to take her place.
Andrews, 52, has been the principal of the academy in Lakeland for six years and was hired this month to succeed Hardman in running the IB school. Hardman, 57, plans to move to Colorado, where she will work for the National Dropout Prevention Center.
Hardman has been principal at Bartow High’s IB since 2015 and, before that, she was principal at Union Academy Middle Magnet School for two years. She has spent the past 23 years working for the Polk County School System as either a teacher or an administrator.
“The Bartow community is pivotal in their support for our school,” Hardman said. “From the (Bartow) Chamber (of Commerce), to the city, to the district there has been amazing support in this town,” she said, adding that — with Andrews moving into her spot — the community will remain in good shape.
Andrews, a veteran of Polk County Schools since 2010, was awarded the Innovative Principal of the Year award for 2017-18.
He is the third principal Bartow’s IB school has had since it was created in 2006. Ed Vetter was the first until he retired in 2015.
“I know Brian will do a fantastic job,” Hardman said. “Judging from his past success at Lawton Chiles and the large percentage of students I have received (at IB) from his school.”
At Lawton Chiles, Andrews implemented a school fabrication lab that allows students to make their digital ideas into products. The school has been a mentor for tech innovation, allowing peer support to other teachers in the district.
Andrews could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
In her new position, Hardman is getting out of the classroom to learn something new.
She called this new position a “global service opportunity” with a non-profit organization that helps schools across the country with disenfranchised youth.
“I haven't been trained yet, but I know they have a research arm to look into schools and work on what principals need,” Hardman said. “We get into a school with their model and improve schools.”
After spending the past six years in Bartow, Hardman said she will miss the people she worked with and will carry many memories with her — including that of how the community rallies around its schools, an experience she saw at both Union and Bartow High's IB.
“My favorite memory is getting to know the dedicated and amazing teachers and watching them teach, help and support (students),” Hardman said.
In reference to help from the community, Hardman said that – without them – there may not be the improvements that are going on at the school currently.
In the $17.5 million project, seven buildings – all more than 50 years old – were destroyed for a two-story science center, a construction academy and a new culinary center.
“People went to the district (and) they helped us,” Hardman said. “The community is strong and shows support for the school. The building is a credit to community leaders.”