Introducing three new principals with Chatham County Schools: Dr. Miah Hart-Olivis, Ms. Amy Doty and Dr. Randy St.Clair

Please note: This article was written for the December 2023 issue of Briar Chapel magazine with the title Introducing your neighborhood’s new school leaders: Dr. Miah Hart-Olivis, Ms. Amy Doty and Dr. Randy St.Clair.

For all three traditional public schools to which Briar Chapel residents are assigned, the 2023-24 school year began with new principals. Now that they’ve had some time to settle in, the Chatham Education Foundation would like to introduce them to the community and share some fun facts about each. You can rest assured that all three come highly-qualified and that their students’ mental well-being is of utmost concern.

Chatham Grove Elementary School

Dr. Miah Hart-Olivis comes to Chatham Grove Elementary from Hillandale Elementary in Durham, N.C. Under her tutelage, Hillandale’s student performance increased in all subject areas, exceeded growth and was recognized as one of the highest-growth schools among Durham Public Schools. Dr. Hart-Olivis has served students at nearly all grade levels, ranging from kindergarten to supporting students in a high school alternative setting. What she loves most about being a principal is that “it gives me a wider influence for problem-solving and improving outcomes for our students, and therefore, our community.” In fact, she said, “All of my best ideas come from problem solving and working with feedback.”

When she began college, Dr. Hart-Olivis didn’t have her sights on the education field. Rather, she started out in broadcast journalism and then progressed to psychology with a minor in education. A third generation educator, Dr. Hart-Olivis said, “I knew I had a message and wanted to share it, especially with the youngest minds, but I didn’t pick up on the impact of the lineage right away

With all of the accolades she’s earned—from an outstanding doctoral student award at High Point University, to being nominated for the American Association of School Administrators Women in Leadership award, to Hillandale Elementary being recognized as a School of Distinction in the Trauma-informed Leadership Team Initiative—she’s definitely found her calling. 

Pollard Middle School

Principal Amy Doty may be new to Pollard Middle School, but she’s not new to Chatham County Schools. Some Briar Chapel students may have even seen her smiling face at Perry Harrison Elementary (where Briar Chapel was assigned before Chatham Grove Elementary was built) where she previously served as principal. Prior to her stint at Perry Harrison, Ms. Doty coordinated programming for both dual and world languages for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Before that, she was an assistant principal at Seawell Elementary School in Chapel Hill. 

Those who saw Ms. Doty in action at Perry Harrison know she’s one to step up and fill in whenever for whatever is needed. When schools were getting ready to open up in 2021, for example, Perry Harrison only had one food server, so Ms. Doty stepped up to the plate, donning a hat and mask and began serving. She was recognized by No Kid Left Hungry North Carolina for doing “what it takes to make sure her students’ needs are met from walking late students to the cafeteria to make sure they still get breakfast, to helping serve meals herself when the nutrition team is understaffed.”

Ms. Doty grew up in England where her mom was her third grade teacher and her dad was her high school principal. She came to the U.S. for college and embraced her family’s teaching gene with her first job as an ESL teacher in Durham, N.C. After teaching for several years, she pursued her Master’s in Education Leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill. While at Perry Harrison, she completed the Distinguished Leadership in Practice program, a year-long leadership development program for school principals. With all of these leadership tools in her belt, Ms. Doty was ready to take on her next challenge–middle school students.

Seaforth High School

Dr. Randy St.Clair has been a principal at high schools in both Wilson and Craven counties; and prior to coming to Seaforth High School, he was principal at Wilson Early College Academy in Wilson, N.C., where he was the 2021-22 Wilson County Schools Principal of the Year. Sporting fancy sneakers with his button-down shirts and coordinating ties, he’s relatable to students and looks to them to take the initiative on bringing new ideas to fruition. As this is Seaforth’s first year with all four grades, Dr. St.Clair’s presence will set the precedent for years to come. 

Filling teacher vacancies at Seaforth is top priority for Dr. St.Clair. “It’s a tough time to be in education,” he said. “Finding staffing for our high needs positions is currently the greatest challenge we’re facing.” He keeps the Seaforth community up-to-date in a weekly newsletter he calls Hawk Talk.
Dr. St.Clair’s favorite aspect of being a principal is making connections with his staff, students and community. He finds Chatham County Schools a great place to do just that. He said, “I have received an overwhelming amount of support from school personnel, community members and the district office.” 

Dr. St.Clair began his education career as a middle school English Language Arts teacher. But before he was a teacher, he was a journalist. As he answered in a student profile for East Carolina University, where he received his master’s in education, principal licensure and Doctor of Educational Leadership, it was his desire to teach students to write—that and his love for poetry—that he decided to go into teaching. He wrote, “I did not realize how much I would enjoy learning along with my students. It’s the best part of being a teacher.”

Article by: Cate House

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