Pickens County school district hires first Black principal since desegregation

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Forest Acres Elementary School’s new principal is the first Black principal in the School District of Pickens County since the district desegregated more than 50 years ago.

Ashley Anderson-Murray has been leading Forest Acres on an interim basis since December, when former principal Darian Byrd left to become director of the district’s virtual academy. On Friday, the district announced she had been officially hired for the position.

“I’m humbled but I’m also very blessed that I get the chance to continue to work with the students and teachers and families in the Easley community,” Anderson-Murray said. “I’m really excited about today, this moment in time, but I’m more excited about what the future has to hold for our students.”

In a released statement, Superintendent Danny Merck applauded Anderson-Murray’s leadership at the school. 

“Taking on the challenge of the principalship mid-year is difficult, and making the transition during a pandemic is extraordinary,” Merck said in the statement. “She has stepped up to plate this year, and we’re excited to see what she will do at Forest Acres in the future.”

Anderson-Murray said she doesn’t come from a typical family background. When Anderson-Murray was 2 years old, her mother died from cancer. She was raised by her grandmother, and she’s a first-generation college graduate.

She was inspired to go into teaching by her first grade teacher, who is still part of her life. Anderson-Murray hopes she can inspire children in similar situations with her own story. 

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