NEWPORT — Newport Middle School Principal Carolyn Heller will retire after a 42-year career in education. Her last day will be Saturday, Feb. 29, according to a press release issued by the county school system Friday.

Ms. Heller has served as principal of NMS since August 2018. Prior to that, she served as principal of West Carteret High School for 11 years.

The longtime educator said the decision to retire was difficult, but made based on her husband’s health.

“The passion, dedication and devotion necessary to be a successful principal is all-consuming. After much soul searching I have come to the conclusion that Newport Middle School deserves more than I am going to be able to continue to give,” Ms. Heller said. “I do not feel that I can continue to give the 110 percent that I am used to giving when I am concerned about my husband’s health.”

School officials said retired Craven County administrator Jeff Murphy will serve as the interim principal at NMS until the end of the school year. Mr. Murphy was a mentor to Ms. Heller when she started her principalship at WCHS.

The release states the position will be advertised and a new principal is expected to be named before the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

County Public School System Interim Superintendent Richie Paylor said he appreciated the service Ms. Heller has provided to students, employees and families.

“Mrs. Heller is a dedicated leader and her service to our school system, as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, is greatly appreciated,” he said. “Mrs. Heller has a passion for students, and true appreciation and understanding of the hard work teachers and school system employees do each day. Her leadership will be missed.”

Ms. Heller said serving as a principal “has been one of the greatest joys of my life and I will miss it and the incredible people I have worked with very much. Newport Middle School is a wonderful community and I have absolutely loved working here. This school has committed teachers and staff members who give their hearts and souls to our students, and the parents and community members are equally as supportive.”

Ms. Heller served as principal of WCHS from 2007 to 2018. She served as an assistant principal there from 2003 to 2007. Prior to that, she was an exceptional children’s teacher at WCHS and in Illinois.

She has a master’s degree in school administration from East Carolina University and a master’s degree in curriculum and education from National-Louis University. Ms. Heller also has a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University and an associate’s degree from Moraine Valley Community College.

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