Rochelle Lofstrand, the current principal at Westchester Elementary in Decatur, begins transitioning to her new job as Decatur High principal next week. Courtesy City Schools of Decatur

New Decatur High principal begins work next week

Earlier this month Westchester Elementary Principal Rochelle Lofstrand was named new principal of Decatur High School, and she’ll begin transitioning to the new assignment Feb. 24, the Monday after winter break.

Lofstrand told the AJC that through the school year’s end she’ll spend a minimum two days weekly at Decatur High while also remaining Westchester principal. The Westchester job has been posted and that school will not have an interim. The new Westchester principal should get hired well before the 2020-21 year begins.

Wes Hatfield, a DHS graduate and assistant principal at the school since 2006, has been interim principal since Arlethea William transferred to the Talley Street Upper Elementary last summer. He’ll remain as interim until year’s end before moving back to assistant principal for 2020-21.

Westchester initially opened in 1955 but was closed in 2004 amidst considerable controversy after City Schools Decatur’s enrollment plummeted to 2,300. Lofstrand as principal reopened the school in August 2014, after a $500,000 renovation that included knocking down walls and restoring the original classroom configuration.

Before coming to Westchester she’d been assistant principal at DHS from Dec. 2010 until 2014.

“I’m excited to go back to [DHS], but leaving [Westchester] is really hard,” Lofstrand said recently. “This is my school, and being part of re-opening it was an amazing professional gift.”

Lofstrand was selected as DHS principal after interviewing with four separate panels of students, parents, central office staffers and student leadership team members.

She grew up in Pembroke, New Hampshire, before her family moved to Newnan, Ga., where she graduated from Newnan High. She majored in chemistry at Emory University, graduated in 1996 before beginning a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. From 1996 to 1998 she taught science and English in the southwestern African country of Namibia.

Returning home she got a masters in science education from Georgia State after which she taught science and chemistry at North Springs High from 2000 until coming to Decatur in 2010.

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