Rebecca Huff

Rebecca Huff of Grapeland signs the contract to become principal of Elkhart Junior High at the school board’s December meeting.

Former language arts teacher Rebecca Huff takes over as principal of Elkhart Middle School, effective Monday. In December, members of the Elkhart school board offered her a one-year probationary contract.

Huff, 46, replaces Ron Mays, 52, who led the middle school for 16 years.

Elkhart School Board President Kevin Bush said the board and Superintendent Lamont Smith hired Huff based on her previous teaching and adminstrative experience, after two rounds of interviews.

“We emphasize excellence,'' Bush said. “We believe the experiences of Huff will enhance the good things that are taking place.”

School officials declined to disclose Huff's salary.

Mays will retire at the end of January to run a power-washing business with his brother, Roger, who is Elkhart High School’s assistant principal. Until then, Mays will help Huff in her transition to the principal's position.

With 265 students, Elkhart Middle School enrolls sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students.

Under Principal Ron Mays, Huff began teaching sixth-grade language arts at Elkhart Middle School in 2001. She and Mays opened a learning lab called Grand Central Station that assisted all students seeking help.

Huff, of Grapeland, also served as an elementary and junior high principal in Grapeland, and as an assistant principal at AM Story Intermediate School in Palestine.

With 17 years of education experience, Huff said she looks forward to returning to work in Elkhart.

“That sense of family (is what) I’m looking forward to,” Huff said.

Mays’ wife, Kelly, works at Elkhart Intermediate, and his two children attended school in Elkhart. His daughter, Katie Phillips, teaches fifth-grade math.

On another matter, school board members in December voted to change the date of its January meeting to Jan. 14, in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.