BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — A Bennettsville native has been hired as the new principal of Marlboro County High School, the district announced on Monday.

Michael Dease is a 2002 graduate of Marlboro County High School, where he excelled both in academics and athletics. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in recreation and leisure from Newberry College in 206 and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University.

Dease replaces Jamane Watson who was notified in February along with several other administrators that their contracts would not be renewed. High School students staged a one-day walkout to protest the administrative changes. The board of education approved the hiring of assistant principals at its meeting in March.

Dease has served as an educator in Richland and Scotland counties, most recently as an assistant principal at Andrews Middle School in Columbia, where he spent the past five-and-a-half years.

One of the highlights of Dease’s career as an educator came when he was at Dreher High School in Columbia. He spearheaded the Intro to Teaching program through the University of South Carolina Department of Education. The program helped students who were majoring in Education and entering their student teaching gain real-life experience.

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Dease on our team,” Dr. Jason Bryant, associate superintendent of human resources for Marlboro County schools. “This is an exciting time for our district, and he provides the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills to take Marlboro County High School to the next level. Mr. Dease comes highly recommended as an administrator, mentor, and instructional leader. He has a passion and vision for building positive relationships and developing mentoring programs to help motivate students for success.”

The district also announced the hiring of Sam Price as its 2022-2023 Executive Director of Exceptional Children. She has served as a professional educator in South Carolina since 1998, the district said.