A former McNabb Elementary School teacher was named the next principal at Paducah Middle School.

Geco Ross, a native of Paducah, returns to his hometown after serving as the assistant principal at Livingston Central High School. He was the 2015 Kentucky History Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Ross will succeed Allene Houston-Jones, who resigned the position to become the district’s instructional specialist. Ross will official begin his duties at Paducah Middle School on July 1.

The announcement was made Friday night by the Paducah Middle School Site-Based Decision-Making Council.

Anne Bidwell, the vice chairwoman of the council, made the announcement. Members Amanda Esper, Terri Livingston and Terri Sauer were present, and member Shanetha Donaldson took part virtually, but Superintendent Donald Shively — who serves as the chairman of the council — was not present for the meeting.

Shively was asked not to take part in the council’s decision regarding the next principal by local NAACP representative Varetta Hurt during a Paducah Independent School District Board meeting on May 17.

That protest was based on a photo of Shively that surfaced on social media of him in blackface at a 2002 Halloween party, when he was a coach and teacher at Paducah Tilghman High School.

The nomination to hire Ross passed with a 5-0 vote Friday.

“I have been involved in this process multiple times and in multiple districts,” Sauer said in a prepared statement. “The work of this council has been exemplary, and I believe we have set the gold standard for how this process should work.

“To our community at large, we could not have selected the leader that you wanted without your help. … You told us what is important and we were listening. We invite and encourage you to continue to partner with us — and especially our new principal — to achieve those goals and move Paducah Middle forward.”

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