Chapel Hill High School Principal Charles Blanchard announced his retirement on Feb. 2 in a community message. His last day will be April 1.
Valerie Akins, who has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and principal, will take his place as interim until a new principal is chosen. She served as an interim assistant principal last year atGuy B. Phillips Middle School.
Blanchard, who began to teach at age 22 and has worked as a high school principal since 2006, said he made the decision to retire over winter break.
“It's sad to leave, but I'm excited,” he said. “I really have spent so much time away from my children. I'm excited to be able to be a dad and be a husband.”
He turns 50 in March, making him eligible for retirement in North Carolina. He served as principal at CHHS for nearly five years, leading the school through a construction project and virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHHS will now enter a transition period, moving from Blanchard to Akins and ultimately to a new permanent principal.
Andy Jenks, the chief communications officer for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said he is confident the process will go smoothly.
“I think our staff and students and families are resilient and the transition is going to be as smooth as possible under the circumstances because there's a strong foundation in place,” he said. “Principals have an enormous impact on the success of schools, but they also don't do it alone.”
Jenks said the school will take community input to see what qualities the community wants in the new principal.