(Harlan, Ky.) – After more than a decade at the helm of the hallways at Harlan High School, principal Britt Lawson, III will officially hand over the reins beginning July 1, 2024.

Lawson is completing a 27-year education career that includes 19 years as a school principal. He began his career in the Harlan County School District before taking over the top post at Stinnett Elementary in Leslie County. In 2013 he filled the Harlan High School Principal vacancy created when now-current superintendent C.D. Morton left the position.

lawsonWhile under Lawson’s leadership, Harlan High School (HHS) has experienced continued academic success. Over his 11-year tenure, he navigated three accountability system changes where HHS remained among the highest-achieving High Schools in Kentucky. As a result of increased participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and postsecondary readiness rates, HHS continues to be recognized as one of Kentucky’s Best High Schools by the U.S. News & World Report during his time. Harlan High was ranked #15 most recently, an accomplishment Lawson is extremely proud of, “I am really proud of the work our faculty and staff do for our students, we have worked hard to build on the Harlan standard of a rigorous curriculum that is blended with tailored supports to get the results we are getting. We have expanded our AP courses and Dual Credit program significantly while also focusing on giving students a wide range of career pathways to explore. Being a part of the family of dragons has been an honor. I have had the pleasure of working with some very dedicated faculty and staff along the way. Together, I am certain we have raised the bar and prepared students very well. Our very high postsecondary readiness rates and college transition rates tell a very positive story for our graduates.”

Superintendent C.D. Morton says Lawson’s impact is far greater than academic success, “Mr. Lawson has had a remarkable run when you look at the academic achievement of his school, but equally important has been the care and relationships he developed with his students and staff. He is genuine and in a small school where you know every single student closely it is important that you be authentic. Mr. Lawson has been both. He has worked hard for his staff and students to build a school where all students succeed. Our student demographics have changed over the last decade, but the high-achieving results have not, which is a testament to culture and leadership. Having served 19 years in the role of Principal takes a lot of determination, grit, and toughness. We are going to miss him in the hallways at Harlan but wish him great success on his next adventure.”

With the vacancy created by Lawson’s retirement, Superintendent Morton wasted little time tapping his replacement. He did not have to look far as assistant principal Mike Bolton was appointed to take over effective July 1st. Bolton has served as an assistant principal leading Harlan Middle School for the last two years and was a Social Studies teacher at Harlan High before that. He taught and was an assistant principal at Right Fork School in the Bell County School District for 18 years before coming to Harlan High in 2020.

boltonMorton says Bolton’s transition to the High School role will provide both students and staff with a seamless transition and much-needed continuity, “When you have a good thing going, you want to limit setbacks and disruptions as much as possible. Mr. Bolton has done an absolutely amazing job at Harlan Middle School and will bring that same energy, focus, and work ethic to the High School. The staff in both buildings know Mr. Bolton well as a co-worker and a leader, he has established great rapport with the students over the last four years and is respected by the staff. He has demonstrated a focus on academic achievement and is very visible at all extra-curricular activities. To be the principal at Harlan High School is an honor that comes with high expectations, the academic achievement of our district and school is known across the commonwealth. I am confident, under the leadership of Mr. Bolton both the school and district will only grow stronger.”

Bolton is excited about the challenge and is looking forward to taking over the reins at Harlan High School. He commented, “Harlan is a very special school, small and family-oriented where every kid is supported to achieve their very best. The culture is second to none, our staff members know all the students and work hard to meet them where they are, it is why we get such high results year in and year out. I know that preparing our kids for a bright future after High School is our top priority and that will not change moving forward. The success of Harlan High School enables our entire community to have something they can be proud of and I fully recognize just how important that is to Green Dragons past and present. It is an honor to be a part of such a high-performing school and district. We have some exciting days ahead of us for our students.” Mr. Bolton is married to Jessica Bolton who teaches 3rd grade at Harlan Elementary and they have two children, Chloe a rising senior, and Canaan who is a rising 5th grader.