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Stanton Elementary School students will see a new face at the helm as Matthew Shepherd steps into the role as principal.

Shepherd, who until this past year served as transportation director for Hancock County Schools in West Virginia, decided to change course and head back into the school building. The Wintersville resident said he was excited for the opportunity to lead Stanton’s estimated 475 students in grades PreK-6. He succeeds Julie Kireta, who was named assistant superintendent.

“I am excited but nervous. Everyone has been excellent from the administrators to the teachers and staff,” he said.

A Steubenville native, Shepherd graduated from Steubenville High School in 1992 and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Youngstown State University in 1996. He later moved to Johnson City, Tenn., where he attended a Christian seminary for half a semester and worked as a substitute history and geography teacher at Science Hill High School. However, he found his true calling in the classroom.

“I was debating my career path at the time,” he explained.

He eventually earned a full-time position and remained on staff there until 2005. Shepherd had also received a master’s degree in middle grades education in 2001 from nearby Milligan College but returned to the Ohio Valley in 2005. He then taught in the Indian Creek Local School District and obtained his administrative licensure from Franciscan University a year later. Shepherd spent seven years at Indian Creek and served as an assistant principal at ICHS until 2013, when he headed across the river to Hancock County. He spent the past five years as transportation director but decided it was time for a change.

“I wanted to get back into the education side of it,” he said. “The door opened up and I could not not walk through. I want to try to be a positive influence for the kids and a male role model.”

Shepherd said Kireta has been helpful in making the transition a smooth one, while Kireta was equally pleased to have the new principal on board.

“Matt has experience in administration, so I’m sure he’ll be able to step in and carry on without missing a beat,” she added. “Our teachers are great, so I’m sure they will all come together and work for the best of our students.”

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