The T.K. Stone Middle School Site-Based Decision-Making Council tapped Dawne Swank as its next principal Thursday night.

Swank was the school’s assistant principal, a job she started about a month ago after moving from the same position at Elizabethtown High School. Most of her education experience has been at the high school level, which council members said will be an asset for the middle school.

“She knows what is needed at the next step,” teacher Katie Davis said. “She helps continue our tradition of excellence.”

The principal position opened after Jennifer Burn­ham left in July to be the director of federal programs and leadership development for Hardin County Schools. Since then, Swank has stepped in to do both jobs.

Superintendent Jon Ballard described the last month as baptism by fire. The school’s open house is Monday and the first day of school is Wednesday.

Central office staff will be available to support Swank if she needs it, Ballard said. There still are some vacant positions to hire for and Swank also will need to find a new assistant principal.

Ballard said Swank’s well-rounded skill set, especially her leadership skills, stood out. Additionally, she’s a hard-worker and will bond well with students.

“We’re really excited with the direction Ms. Swank will take T.K. Stone,” Ballard said.

Swank was one of 15 candidates. The council interviewed four applicants.

Shawn Sizemore, a parent and council member, said Swank’s experience and familiarity with the district stood out along with her communication skills.

“She has quite a vested interest in the district,” Sizemore said.

Davis said Swank was the best fit for the school.

“We’re excited to have her and think she’ll do a great job,” she said.

With Thursday’s announce­ment, Vine Grove Elementary School is the last principal vacancy in the area. The school’s council decided July 19 to go with an interim principal, but Hardin County Schools Superintendent Teresa Morgan has yet to name one as of Thursday evening. District spokesman John Wright said earlier this week Morgan was working to find the best person available for the job.

Katherine Knott can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or

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