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Buffalo High gets new principal

WINFIELD — The Putnam County Board of Education named Tawny Stilianoudakis as Buffalo High School’s new principal Monday night.

Stilianoudakis, who has been assistant principal and athletics director at Buffalo High for one school year, will step up after Principal Richard Grim’s June 30 retirement. The school board approved Grim’s departure last month after 39 years with the school system.

Stilianoudakis, 52, said she has 27 years with Putnam County Schools under her belt.

“Especially in secondary education, I can see the whole full spectrum from sixth grade all the way to the time [students] graduate,” she said.

Stilianoudakis graduated from Winfield High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from West Virginia State University and a master’s degree from Marshall University. She taught seventh and eight grade math for two decades at Winfield Middle School before teaching math at Winfield High for six years. In July 2012, she completed a yearlong administrative certification program at Marshall.

Last summer, an assistant principal at Winfield High retired, creating an administrative shuffle that allowed her to become assistant principal at Buffalo. Stilianoudakis said it’s been a very busy year but she’s learned more than she could have ever asked for. “Buffalo is a great place, it’s a great school, I expect a lot of things to happen here in the near future,” she said.

One of her brothers, Jimmy Tribble, is a baseball coach at Buffalo High, and another brother, Charlie Tribble, is transportation coordinator at the school system’s central office. She has a son teaching math at Hurricane High School and another who is a junior at Winfield High.

Superintendent Chuck Hatfield has said one of the greatest contributions of Grim and his staff was bringing to the board of education the idea to become part of the New Tech Network, a group of 135 schools in 23 states and Australia, according to the nonprofit organization’s website. As part of New Tech, students all receive laptops and work on projects in small groups, Hatfield said.

Grim said in 2012 that Buffalo High was the first school in the state to convert all grades, nine through 12, to the New Tech system.

Stilianoudakis said she wants to better gear the New Tech program to fit Buffalo High. She said she wants to preserve the New Tech model of having students work in problem-solving groups and create presentations, but added the school needs to better teach curriculum content to students.

She said teaching that content will be her main focus.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board approved transferring Douglas Cross, who has been principal of Hurricane Middle School for four years, to the director of secondary education position in the school district’s central office.

Cross, 45, said the new position is the combination of the directors of high school and middle school education. Patsy Smith, who held the high school director position, is retiring, and the assistant superintendent has been handling the duties of the vacant middle school director position. The Hurricane Middle principal position will be posted for applicants, he said.

“I’m excited about it,” Cross said. “I hope to have a little bit more collaboration between the middle and high schools, allowing kids to look down the road.”

Cross said he wants to ease students’ transition from middle to high school.

Dallas Sheldon, a father of three Winfield High School graduates and a son who is graduating this year, also pressed board members Monday about whether they could call a special meeting to discuss allowing revered former football coach Leon McCoy to speak at Thursday’s Winfield High graduation. Hatfield repeated his previous statement that the decision was not made by the board or the central office, but by the high school itself.

“My question is: Who made the decision?” Sheldon said to reporters after the meeting. He also questioned what specific law prevented McCoy from speaking. School officials have cited federal Supreme Court rulings.

A community backlash has ensued after McCoy agreed to not give his religiously themed speech, which he said he’s been giving for at least the past decade. The school system received at least one formal complaint after last year’s graduation, and Winfield High’s principal discussed the issue with the former coach.

McCoy called the speech a way to “pray without praying” to avoid controversy over school prayer, and it included lines like, “If I could pray, I would ask God to bless all the seniors.”

Reach Ryan Quinn at or 304-348-1254.

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