Drake to leave Oak Hill Academy

 Linda Drake, elementary principal at Oak Hill Academy is leaving at the end of the school year.
Staff Writer

Linda Drake has served Oak Hill Academy and its students as the elementary school principal for four years.

She is leaving at the end of the school year to help take care of her aging mother in Gonzales, Texas.

"I want to be with her," Drake said. "She is 88 and she needs me. My sister lives close to her, but she also works full time. I don't want her to have to do everything by herself. I want to help."

Drake said she plans to come back to West Point and Oak Hill Academy. She loves the town and the children that have been a part of her life for the past four years.

"I love these children," Drake said. "I feel protective of them. It's a bond you build with students as an elementary school principal."

The OHA families have deep roots within the school. Many of the student's parents were graduates of OHA and have grandparents who remember when the school first opened in 1966, Drake said.

"The Raider family is amazing," Drake said. "And that is what everyone at this school is, family. We all work together to do our very best for the students. I am going to miss everyone here so very much. But I will be keeping up with what is going on and I do plan to come back."

Drake has loved the her time as elementary principal at Oak Hill, and she said she has loved the children even more.

"When the children have walked through the door, they have been mine," Drake said. "That was my goal, to treat every child as if they were my own. I hope each and every one of them knows I love them and will miss them."

Phil Ferguson will be the elementary principal at Oak Hill, when school resumes in August. He will continue to be the Athletic Director as well.

Katie Ballard currently teaches fifth grade, but will assume the role of assistant principal in August, and will be teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes to sixth and seventh grades.

"We will be introducing STEM to the sixth and seventh grade classes," Ballard said. "Our hope is to expand the STEM classes to the entire elementary school. The hands - on aspect brings it to life and gives the students a chance to explore new possibilities for the future."

Ballard said she is hoping to partner with Mississippi State University Extension Service (MSUES) to bring in a robotics program to the Oak Hill curriculum. She said there are big plans for the school in the coming years.

"We will always stress academic success," Ballard said. "But we want our students to understand there are other options available to them. There are great engineering and technical programs at Mississippi State. We want them to be ready when they graduate to continue their education in their chosen field."