New principal hired to lead Hope Elementary

HOPE — Resignations and retirements, including that of nine-year principal Lisa Smith, means that almost a third of Hope Elementary School’s 21 teachers are new to the district this year.

New Principal Jessica Poe, who grew up in and still lives in Shelby County, welcomed elementary students to class Wednesday just five days after learning she would succeed Smith as the school’s top administrator.

Smith informed Flat Rock-Hawcreek Superintendent Shawn Price early last week that she had accepted a job teaching mathematics to middle-school students in Columbus, Price said. The job opening was posted the next day, and the 36-year-old Poe was hired on Friday — just three days later.

Poe, who served one year as principal of Rockcreek Elementary in Columbus during the 2012-13 school year, said she got to know about eight families in Hope after her daughter joined a softball team last year with players from the Flat Rock-Hawcreek area.

“I started coming to more things in Hope, like the Heritage Days, and I just started to fall in love with this community,” Poe said. “I hope to make this my educational home.”

It’s been a crash course so far.

“I’ve had some long days. But in education, we all have to put in a lot of hours when we need to,” Poe said.       

Poe said she applauds the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Board for its efforts to provide each student with a computer.   

“21st century learning will be technology-based, so we have to embrace the world our children live in to prepare them for college and career,” Poe said. 

With the start of a new school year, she said her first priority is to prepare the six new teachers hired over the summer.  

Once she feels those educators are confident in their new jobs, Poe said, she intends to next focus on meeting students and their parents and structuring upcoming activities.

Resignations etc.

Teacher resignations accepted Tuesday by the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation.

  • Hope Elementary Principal Lisa Smith
  • Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Speer
  • First-grade teacher Jenna Kramer
  • Hauser science teacher Jeff Fant
  • Hauser band/choir director Christina Whitaker
  • Hope Elementary Response-to-Intervention (RTI) aide Anne Waskom
  • Hauser tennis coach Elizabeth Sexton
  • Hauser Junior High cross-country coach Carrie Harris

In other changes:

  • Hope Elementary second-grade teacher Susan Thompson retired after 37 years with the district on Aug. 1.
  • Due to a drop in state funding, the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. eliminated positions held by industrial technology teacher Timothy Mauzy and grade school counselor Amy Keller on June 2.  

New hires

New hires approved Tuesday night by the Flat Rock-Hawcreek school board include:

  • Jessica Poe, Hope Elementary principal
  • Alison Wold, coordinator of e-learning and library media specialist
  • Michelle Hattabaugh, second-grade teacher
  • Barry Grimes, sixth-grade teacher
  • Kristi Rice, fourth-grade teacher
  • Elyse Cory, kindergarten teacher
  • Deborah Gaff, Hauser science teacher
  • Tiarra Clarkston, Hauser Spanish teacher

Jessica Poe

Jessica Poe

Position: Hope Elementary School principal

Age: 36

Hometown: Shelbyville

Education: 1996 graduate of Southwestern High School; Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Franklin College in 2000; master’s degree in administration from Ball State University in 2011.   

Experience: Worked one year as principal of Rockcreek Elementary School in Columbus; taught at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar for seven years; taught fifth grade at Loper Elementary in Shelbyville; two years as assistant principal at Hendricks Elementary in Shelbyville; assistant principal at Shelbyville Middle School for the past two years.  

Family: Husband, Cameron Poe; daughters, Madelyn, 9, and Jillian, 3.  

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.