Veteran principal promoted to district position

  • Sarajean McDaniel
    Sarajean McDaniel
  • Positively Putnam FL
    Positively Putnam FL

The 2020 Putnam County Principal of the Year will no longer be a principal after this week.

Sarajean McDaniel, who has been the principal of Moseley Elementary School for the past three years, will be moving to the district next week to serve as an administrator on special assignment. Her new position involves mentoring novice principals and helping implement school improvement initiatives.

“I’m looking forward to really getting into all the schools in the district and supporting principals,” McDaniel said. “This is my 11th year as a principal, and it’s hard fitting into that principal role sometimes. It can be a lonely job, and you need someone you can reach out to.”

Superintendent Rick Surrency said McDaniel was instrumental in improving Moseley. The school earned a C from the Florida Department of Education in 2019, which is the highest grade it had received since 2009.

McDaniel’s leadership skills and her ability to change a school’s culture make her an asset to the Putnam County School District, Surrency said. McDaniel previously served as the principal of James A. Long Elementary School in Palatka, he said, where she also aided in raising the school’s grade.

“She has the ability to make teachers and students believe that the school can do much better than they were doing,” Surrency said. “And that’s exactly what they did. We want her to do the same thing with principals around the district.”

Surrency said Tony Benford, Moseley’s assistant principal and the 2020 Putnam County Assistant Principal of the Year, will serve as the interim principal until the full-time position is filled later this month. He said the job will be posted on the district’s website.

“Her and Tony working together has just been phenomenal,” Surrency said. “They make school a fun place to be, and more importantly, they teach kids to love learning.”

According to McDaniel, her official job title has not been finalized yet. She said she will still be fulfilling her responsibilities as principal of Moseley throughout this week.

McDaniel said she is excited to take what she has learned from her time as a principal and apply it to schools across the district. She said she will miss being at Moseley, where she has witnessed students grow academically, teachers develop confidence and parents become more involved in their children’s education.

“This is a team and a family at Moseley,” McDaniel said. “I have no doubt the school will just continue to improve.”