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Clear Creek, Upward elementary schools get new principals

New in the 2021-2022 school year, Dena Wolfe will be leading the pack at Clear Creek Elementary and Upward Elementary’s Eagles will be led by Michael Gates.

Until July 1, Wolfe had been serving as assistant principal at Flat Rock Middle and Gates was assistant principal for the Innovative High Schools (Henderson County Career Academy and Henderson County Early College). Gates is filling the principalship at Upward vacated by Jason Joyce, who is the new principal at Bruce Drysdale Elementary. Clear Creek’s former principal, Marcie Wilson, moved to Central Office in July to begin her role as the district’s director of student achievement.

Wolfe is in her 19th year with HCPS, having started as a teacher assistant at Upward Elementary – where she’s spent the majority of her education career. After serving as a teacher assistant for 3 years, Wolfe spent 10 years at Upward teaching second and third grades, and was named Upward’s Teacher of the Year in 2009-2010. She became assistant principal in 2016 and continued to serve at Upward for three years before transitioning in 2019 to her most recent role as assistant principal at Flat Rock Middle.

“I am excited to join the Cub family!” Wolfe said. “I look forward to getting to know the students, the staff, and this strong school community. It is my honor to serve in this new position at Clear Creek.”

Gates began his education career in 1995 as an Exceptional Student teacher at Fort Walton Beach High in Florida. He continued teaching both general and special education in Florida through 2004. While teaching, Gates also served as head golf coach and assistant football coach at Richbourg Middle, then head golf coach for middle and high school grades at Baker School K-12. In 2004, still at Baker School, Gates served as a guidance counselor and assistant softball coach, before relocating to North Carolina in 2005. He became the Exceptional Children Program facilitator for Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools in 2005, where he served until 2007. From 2007 to present, Gates has served HCPS as an assistant principal at Apple Valley Middle, Rugby Middle, and most recently at the Innovative High Schools, and says he is excited to return to the elementary school scene.

“I've been working with middle school and high school students for several years now and I'm most excited about working again with elementary aged students,” Gates said. “I'm happy to become part of the Upward family and look forward to a successful first year, learning how I can best support our teachers and students!”

Wolfe holds an undergraduate in Psychology from UNC Asheville, and both an undergraduate in Elementary Education and a masters in School Administration from Western Carolina University. Gates holds both an undergraduate in Special Education and masters in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida.