“I always have felt that education is my calling in life,” said Courtney Story, shortly after the Symsonia Elementary School site-based decision-making council chose her as the school’s new principal Friday, July 5. “I’m very passionate about education, but more so, I’m passionate about people. I believe in building up others – especially kids, because they need a role model.
“I have worked with administrators my entire life,” she continued, “because my parents, from when I was a baby, were passionate educators. They were very influential in my becoming a teacher. Both of my aunts and an uncle have served on a school board and worked in education. I think education is a calling for me.”
Story attended Graves County Middle and High schools and was graduated from Graves High in 2007. She earned an education degree at Murray State University in 2011 in order to teach social studies and language arts.
She initiated her career by teaching seventh-grade reading and writing at GCMS. While doing so, she earned a master’s degree as a reading and writing specialist. She subsequently taught fifth-graders reading and writing in the Murray Independent School District. For the past three years, she has taught fifth- and sixth-grade writing at Farmington Elementary, the school she attended as a child. Along the way, she earned a Rank I certification – in education administration.
“When those kids know that you put them first, they will rise and fulfill any expectation you set for them,” Story explained. “I believe that. I’ve seen that happen. I’m passionate about it. At the end of the day when we ask, are we doing what’s best for kids, if I can answer that with a smile on my face, I can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I’ve fulfilled my purpose.”
Story’s mother is Vanda Elliott and her late father, David Elliott, was a Graves Countian who coached here many years and, she says, helped build her love for both education and Graves County, where she has lived her entire life. Her brother, Coye Elliott, within the previous week accepted the job as principal at Lone Oak Middle School, after being an assistant principal at Graves County High School. Her sister, Lindsey Wyatt, is a teacher at Mayfield Elementary School. Their youngest brother, Logan Elliott, is pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of Kentucky. All were graduated from Graves County High School and want to live and work in western Kentucky.
“I am just so grateful for this opportunity,” Story said. “I’m humbled, knowing that the (SBDM council) knew nothing about me, walking into that interview. I didn’t know anybody on the staff. So, since they took a chance on somebody they did not know shows a lot. My family and I feel so accepted into Symsonia Elementary School. They didn’t have to give us that chance. Now, I’m ready to be all-in with everyone there.”
Symsonia Elementary School’s new principal, Courtney Story, poses with her family. “My husband, Jessie, is from Symsonia and went to school there,” she said. “Our daughter, Annalise, is 5 and will join me at the school as a kindergarten student this year. I know Symsonia Elementary is a family unit. Everybody pitches in for this community and is so passionate. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Courtney Story is the new principal at Symsonia Elementary School. She replaces Alison Gregory, who is the new Graves County High School principal. “She was my mentor while I was still in college,” Story said of Gregory. “She then worked at Murray Middle School and when I was a substitute teacher there, she would evaluate my performance, as she would a certified teacher. She didn’t have to do that, but she coached me right out of college. That’s her spirit – she always wants to help everybody grow and develop. I actually worked for her when she was an assistant principal at Graves County Middle School. I aspire to be that kind of educator. She also is a phenomenal person.” Gregory presented a necklace as a gift to her protégé, after Story was named principal.
(photos by Paul Schaumburg, Graves County Schools)