When the principal of Athens Drive High School died unexpectedly Aug. 2, longtime Broughton High principal Stephen Mares said he felt called to leave his post and lead the West Raleigh school.
The death of James Hedrick, 62, shocked the Wake County school community. Mares says he hopes to help the grieving Athens Drive community through a tough time and to get the school’s new magnet program off the ground.
It was certainly traumatic for us principals and for central office administrators. I can only imagine what it was like for the school community.
“It was certainly traumatic for us principals and for central office administrators,” he said. “I can only imagine what it was like for the school community.”
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Mares’ departure from Broughton came as a surprise to many. He has led the school since 2009, and he was the school’s fourth principal in 46 years. Broughton, which opened in 1929 near what is now Cameron Village, has educated the children of some of Raleigh’s most prominent families.
“I wasn’t looking to go to another school or anything like that,” Mares said. “I love the Broughton community. But I just thought maybe this is where I need to be right now.”
L. Roy Teel, a familiar face at Broughton, will serve as the school’s interim principal. Teel was Broughton’s principal before he retired and handed over the leadership role to Mares.
“There’s nobody that bleeds purple and gold more than Mr. Teel,” Mares said, referring to the school’s colors.
When Mares arrived at Broughton seven years ago, the school had just lost its magnet program. In 2014, the school system gave Broughton a global studies magnet theme, and Mares said he enjoyed implementing it.
“It’s exciting because it’s new,” he said. “It brings a staff together under a united theme.”
Mares, 50, said he hopes he can rally the Athens Drive staff around the school’s medical health sciences magnet theme, which started this fall.
Mary Ann Wilson, an Athens Drive parent, said she and other other families are looking forward to Mares’ arrival.
“We have some new programs that need some building up, especially the magnet program,” she said.
Karin Evanoff, whose daughter graduated from Athens Drive in June, said she thinks Mares is a great fit for the school. Mares was principal at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh when her son attended there.
“The families have nothing to worry about,” Evanoff said. “This guy is the best principal in Wake County and the best principal for Athens.”
Mares, the father of five children, has about 15 years of experience as a principal. Along with Daniels Middle, he also led Joyner Elementary School. He was named Wake County’s Principal of the Year in 2004.
We’re really going to miss him, because Mr. Mares was the face of Broughton.
Shields Bennett, a senior at the school
“We’re really going to miss him, because Mr. Mares was the face of Broughton,” said Shields Bennett, a senior. “He loves all of us students and puts such an extra effort into getting to know every student.”
Broughton parent Lisa Ralls, who serves on the Needham B. Broughton Capital Foundation board, said Mares’ departure is a big loss.
“He’s fabulous, he’s phenomenal, and he’s going to be sorely missed,” she said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi