Heather Edwards Blackmon was named the new principal of Tuscola High School on Thursday evening during a special -called board meeting.
Blackmon, 49, is the daughter of Ralph Edwards and Jean Weatherby Edwards, and is the granddaughter of Mary Emma Massie Weatherby and Tuscola’s beloved football coach C.E. Weatherby.
Though she did not live in Haywood County growing up, Blackmon has many fond memories of visiting Waynesville and spending time with her grandparents as a child.
“For me, this is just coming home to where my family roots are,” Blackmon said after receiving the news she was hired at Tuscola. “I remember just being able to walk down Main Street in Waynesville with my granddad and listen to him answer questions about football games — no matter whether it turned out good or bad.”
Blackmon will be moving from her home in Graham to a house in Clyde where she will be reunited with many aunts, uncles and cousins who live in Haywood County.
“I spent the first five years of my life in Haywood County, but I was never in school there,” she said, noting that her mother Jean Weatherby Edwards always took her to visit her family in Waynesville since her father traveled often. “I’m looking forward to just being able to have so much family right there around me, and be nurtured by the Massie’s and Weatherby’s.”
Blackmon is leaving behind her position as a program director for the nonprofit Communities In Schools of North Carolina based in Raleigh. The nonprofit works to surround its students with support and empower them to stay in school and achieve in life.
While working for Communities in Schools for the past two years, Blackmon said she had been waiting for the perfect job opportunity to open up.
“I had not applied for any other positions at all until I saw the job opening at Tuscola,” she said. “That is my dream job.”
Before joining the nonprofit, Blackmon had a career in education, working for Guildford, Alamance and Orange County Schools. In addition, she brings prior experience as a principal after serving as a principal in Alamance and Orange County for total of seven years.
With the COVID-19 restrictions lurking overhead, Blackmon faces an unprecedented school year at Tuscola this fall. However, she said her main focus is to create a solid foundation for all of the staff and the students.
“I want to help us come back to school solid after the COVID 19 pandemic,” Blackmon said. “And ensure that the students have everything they need coming out of the pandemic and understand that we are gong to be in a very different situation than we were last year at this time. I will be making sure the students and teachers are prepared to come back to a different kind of school year.”
And as Blackmon turns onto Tuscola School Road this fall as the new principal, she will feel like she is finally coming home.
“I’ve always known this was where I truly belonged,” she said.
Blackmon, several other new principals and Haywood County Schools staff members will be officially introduced during the next school board meeting — which will be held virtually at 7 p.m., Monday, July 13 .