Thrift chosen as new Smithfield High School principal

Published 2:51 pm Sunday, April 12, 2020

Veteran administrator Bryan Thrift will serve as the new principal of Smithfield High School effective July 1. 

Isle of Wight County Schools announced the appointment Saturday.

Thrift began his career as a special education teacher in Northumberland County Schools and joined IWCS in the same role at Smithfield Middle School. In 2009, he was promoted to an assistant principal position at Westside Elementary. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

He also served as an assistant principal at Windsor Elementary and Smithfield High School before leaving the division in 2013 to become an assistant principal at King’s Fork High School in Suffolk. From there, he served as principal at Riverside Elementary School in Newport News and has been principal for the last three years at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Suffolk. 

Thrift earned his bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University in sports and wellness, and his Master’s in Education Administration from the University of Phoenix. He is currently working on his Doctorate in Education Leadership from Old Dominion University. Thrift will take over for Christopher Coleman, who has been serving as interim principal since January. Coleman will return to his position as the division’s director of support Services. 

In another personnel move, Kristen Wilkins has been named the school district’s coordinator for special education. She will replace Ralph Freeman, who is retiring after 38 years with Isle of Wight County Schools. 

Wilkins worked for nine years as a special education teacher, including several years at Carrollton Elementary. She served as an instructional coach for IWCS before being promoted to her current position as assistant principal at Georgie Tyler Middle School.

Wilkins has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education from Hofstra University. She earned her Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Liberty University and just completed her Doctorate in Education Leadership from Liberty. 

“I welcome Mr. Thrift back home and am looking forward to his leadership at Smithfield High School,” said Dr. Jim Thornton, superintendent. “His deep connections to the community, as a resident and a parent, in addition to his administrative experience, make him an ideal candidate for principal. 


“I also welcome Mrs. Wilkins to our administrative team and know her expertise will continue to move the Special Education department forward as we focus on preparing our students to be college, career and life ready.”