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McIntosh ends retirement to take over as principal at Old Mill Elementary

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By Stephen Thomas

MOUNT WASHINGTON – Les McIntosh has been known and respected as a quality educator for years in Bullitt County.

Members of the Old Mill Elementary Site-Based Decision Making Council agreed with the reputation.

McIntosh began serving as Old Mill interim principal July 1. At the school year’s midway point, the SBDM council voted to hire him on a permanent basis.

The SBDM committee went through a first wave of applicants and interviews prior to re-posting the position opening.

McIntosh said faculty members and parents urged him to seek the permanent position.

“When the school year began I thought I’d be here maybe six weeks, I figured I was just temporary,” he said. “Some folks here kept encouraging me to apply.”

Old Mill SBDM parent representative Lora Porter said McIntosh seemed to genuinely enjoy the school and his capacity to help maintain and improve educational quality.

“He has brought consistency to the school,” said Porter. “He brings a positive attitude and atmosphere, and he’s very dedicated to the job. He really likes the school.”

McIntosh brings a large amount of experience with him wherever he goes, much of it serving the Bullitt County Public Schools system.

His fifth year of teaching took place at Overdale Elementary, followed by a 19-year stint at Hebron Middle.

In 1996 McIntosh took his first full-time principal position at Lebanon Junction Elementary, a job he enjoyed through 2004 when he retired to help care for a grandchild.

“That allowed me to start substituting for Bullitt County Public Schools,” he said.

McIntosh went on to serve two months as interim assistant principal at Bullitt East High School in the fall of 2007, followed by a six-month run as interim principal at Freedom Elementary. His next stop was the interim position at Old Mill, replacing the outgoing Debbie Esarey.

“I was asked by (then assistant superintendent of personnel Dr. Helen) Harrah, and I wanted to continue working as an interim principal,” said McIntosh. “At the time, I really did not think that I wanted to work on a permanent basis, but after being here for several months and seeing how great the Old Mill school family is and being asked by several staff and parents here to stay, I decided to apply.”

BCPS superintendent Keith Davis recognized McIntosh as a dedicated educator for many years in Bullitt county, both as teacher and principal.

Davis was pleased with McIntosh’s hiring, believing him to be a good fit for the school.

“(McIntosh) has done an excellent job at Old Mill in the interim capacity this year,” said Davis. “I am fully confident that his quiet strength and determination will help the school become an even better place for his students to learn.”

As a permanent principal, McIntosh wants to help Old Mill retain its status as a top performing school in the district. He credited Harrah, Esarey and former principal Rod Firquin for the school’s community reputation combined with ongoing student achievement.

The new leader also wants to lead Old Mill to a higher level. He credited curriculum/instructional coach Beth Vachon with guiding teachers through professional learning communities and developing instructional programs.

“We work together to analyze test data that drives our instruction,” said McIntosh. “Teamwork is the name of the game. Teachers can no longer work in isolation. We have top notch students, teachers and staff along with very supportive parents. There is no reason why Old Mill should not excel.”

“Our ThinkLink program has shown improvement,” said Porter. “(McIntosh) wants to help improve programs. We’ve seen a change for the better since his arrival.”

McIntosh said the community atmosphere and parental involvement have been vital to Old Mill’s achievements. He praised PTO leaders including volunteer coordinator Carrie Sanders for working with teachers to provide whatever students needed for success.

Located next to the Bullitt East campus, McIntosh said a steady stream of high school student volunteers assisted Old Mill on a daily basis. He said Bullitt East students tutor and read to students as well as performing many clerical duties to help free up time for office staff.

McIntosh was quick not to forget the Old Mill teachers and staff, calling them “second to none.”

“Our office staff, Family Resource Center coordinator, cafeteria staff and custodial staff strive each day to make Old Mill a better place,” he said, “so all of us can work and learn in a school that tries its best to meet the needs of the whole child.”

Porter said McIntosh’s positive attitude was contagious within the school.

“He’s got all of the teachers on board,” Porter said.

“Many former students seem to have a warm feeling about their history at Old Mill,” said McIntosh. “That makes me glad.

Hopefully we can continue that legacy during my time here. I hope to continue to be able to be a part of all that is good about Old Mill for a long time.”