By Thomas Sellers Jr.
After almost a decade in the top position at Millington Central and Melrose high schools, Mark Neal knows the importance of assembling a team to guide students in all phases of education. Returning back to MCHS in July, one of Neal’s top priorities was compiling the best administrators who would understand the fabric of Millington and gravitate to the community.
On Aug. 5, Neal debuted the administrative team of assistant principals Beth Hale, Zane Adams and Ben Rollins with Mickey Wilhite in the post of instructional facilitator.
Wilhite has been a part of MCHS since 2000 and will take on her first year in administration. Wilhite was one of the teachers of Millington graduate Zane Adams. He enters his first year as an assistant principal after teaching and coaching at his alma mater for five years.
Rollins enters year one at Millington and as an administrator coming over from Melrose High School.
“It feels awesome to be here,” Rollins said. “This place has such a sense of home and community. It just feels right.”
Rollins was a former math teacher instructing Algebra 1 and Geometry along with ACT Prep for almost at decade mostly at Melrose High School.
His next move was Profession Learning Community coach before moving to Millington with Neal.
“He has been a mentor for me the past five years,” Rollins said. “It feels good to be able to continue to serve under him.”
Adams served under Neal as a Millington Trojan Football players back in the 2000s. Neal and other coaches at Millington groomed Adams into an All-State linebacker and top-leve pitcher in baseball.
“I grew up here and went to school here,” Adams recalled. “Coach Neal served as my football coach. Spent a lot of time here. Four years ago when I came here, I went ahead and got my degree in administration for the goal of one day making the transition.
“Did I think it would be this soon?”he asked rhetorically. “No. Over the past four years I’ve learned as much as I could under the previous administration. Had a job come open a few weeks ago and Mr. Neal reached out to me. Here I am a few days later.”
Adams started his teaching career up the road at Brighton High School. Then he was welcomed back to Millington by familiar faces like Mrs. Wilhite.
Wilhite has deep roots at MCHS with her experience and connections to the institution.
“I’m a third generation to teach at Millington Central High School,” she noted. “I taught here for 19 years. I am in year 20 now as instructional facilitator. I was instructional coach and master teacher the past four years. So it was an easy roll for me to transition into.”
Wilhite has found her new role enjoyable facing new challenges while being assisted by her colleagues.
“I don’t say this lightly, this is just a dream team for me,” she said. “I am so excited to be working with all of them. I started with Mark 20 years ago now. I feel like I was one of the faculty members who helped raise Zane. We’re just tickled pink to have Ben Rollins with us.”
Adams said his transition is going smoothly as well.
“For me personally with Mr. Neal and Mrs. Wilhite having ties here, we’re really invested and want the best for this school because this was our life growing up,” he said. “Adding Ben to the mix coming from a different setting, he has different techniques we can use with our students here at Millington.”
Rollins said this is his ideal first principal job because he can contribute to a team, community and student body that has a tight bond.
“One of the most positive things I’ve seen in my first couple of weeks is the people here, students and staff, are genuinely happy,” he noted. “Using that to our advantage and coming in with some new instructional strategies to try to advance our school instructional is going to happen. And that’s going to be so awesome.”
Now the “One Millington” philosophy will be embodied by the five individuals in charge at MCHS.
“We’ve always been one Millington,” Wilhite said. “We just never had a the official title. We put a name to it. We’re a close community. I know what the community expects of us. We all know. We’re ready to build and improve.”
Adams said when he graduated in 2005, the dedication to making MCHS better was already a longstanding tradition.
“It’s always been one Millington,” he said. “If you come to a faculty meeting and ask how many teachers went to school here, you’d be surprise how many teachers graduated from here.
“It goes back to Dr. Smith. She’s the oldest graduate from here,” Adams added. “It’s not just recent graduates. It goes all the way back. So it just shows what the community has always been. It has always been One Millington.”
Rollins said from his colleagues, faculty, staff, students and even Millington Municipal Schools Superintendent Bo Griffin he has seen the importance of “One Millington.”
“One Millington is new to me but I think it’s pretty cool,” he concluded. “The community rallies around the school system. Moving forward One Millington I am hoping we can be a partnership between the local business community to where we can get them into the schools teaching our students about business practices advancing the community.”