Engage. Inspire. Empower.

New Principals Announced for CHS & BHHS


Catawba County Schools Announces Two New Principal Appointments

NEWTON, April 27, 2021 -- Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Stover announced two new principal appointments for the upcoming school year: Mrs. Nichole Richardson Ijames as principal of Challenger Early College High School and Mr. Preston Clarke as principal of Bunker Hill High School. The school board confirmed these positions on Monday night. 

“Both of these principals who will be transitioning to Challenger and BHHS have done an excellent job in their current leadership positions and will continue to do an excellent job at their new school,” explains Dr. Stover. “These seasoned principals will be building from their leadership strengths to meet the needs of their new students, staff, and community.” 

Below are the details of each new position: 

Nichole IjamesMrs. Nichole Richardson Ijames will serve as the principal for Challenger Early College High School, beginning June 1. 

Ijames is a familiar face in Catawba County Schools as she has served as principal of Mill Creek Middle School since 2018, and was named the Catawba County Schools Principal of the Year in 2019. Previously Ijames served as Assistant Principal of Tuttle Elementary (2010-2014) and Principal of Snow Creek Elementary (2014-2018).  

"All of my experiences over the past 24 years - having now worked at all three levels (elementary, middle and high), with an emphasis on academic rigor, leading learning, fostering social-emotional support, and promoting equity and cultural competencies - have all collectively prepared me for this moment and this unique opportunity," said Ijames.

Ijames received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, her Masters of Science in Administration from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte, and she expects to earn her Doctor of Education from Gardner Webb University in December 2021. 

"Mrs. Ijames is an outstanding addition to Challenger with her focus on both academics and social-emotional learning," said Stover. "She is a seasoned leader, educator, and student advocate who will continue to do an excellent job in her new position at Challenger!"

Ijames says that the "amazing support" of her husband, son, sisters, parents, and extended family is the reason she's able to "serve and lead authentically." In her personal time, she enjoys music, reading, spending time with family, worshiping, writing, exploring new cultures, and studying resilience, cultural responsiveness, and equity.

Preston Clarke

Mr. Preston Clarke is taking on the role of principal of Bunker Hill High School.

Clarke has spent the last 15 years in education and comes to us from Lincoln County, where he currently serves as principal of Lincolnton High School. Clarke began his career at Maiden High School as an AVID Elective Teacher. He moved to Watauga County Schools, where he served as an assistant principal of Watauga High School, and then principal of Valley Crucis Elementary School in Sugar Grove, NC. Clarke was named the Watauga County Principal of the Year in 2017.

“I consider Catawba County home, especially since I am a product of the school system having graduated from Maiden High School in 2001,” notes Clarke. “I have heard what a positive school and community environment Bunker Hill High School has, and I am energized about my transition there as principal.”

Clarke received his Bachelor of Science in History and Health Science Education from Appalachian State University and his Masters of School Administration from Western Carolina University. Clarke is also a candidate to receive his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from East Tennessee State University in December 2021. 

“We want to welcome Mr. Preston Clarke to our Catawba County Schools family,” said Stover. “His passion for making education better will serve our Bunker Hill High students, parents, and staff well.”

Clarke enjoys reading, working out, and watching and attending sporting events. He also enjoys spending time with his friends and family, including his eight-year-old daughter and ten-year-old son. 

About Catawba County School System:

Catawba County Schools System (CCS) is a district with a bold vision for today – and an eye toward our future. The largest school district in Catawba County, CCS is comprised of 28 schools in five geographical attendance zones with an enrollment of approximately 15,500 students. With 16 elementary, 5 middle, and 5 high schools, as well as an early college high school and alternative high school, CCS offers diverse and intriguing choices that give students access to the amenities and activities of a large district while remaining agile and responsive to evolving needs. To learn more about Catawba County Schools, please visit: www.catawbaschools.net.