The Marion School District is pleased to announce the hiring of longtime Marion resident Shelbi Cole as principal at Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet, starting with the 2022-23 school year. The moved was approved Thursday night by the Marion School Board.

Cole, who has been an assistant principal at the school for six years, will replace Adam O’Neal, who is living the district to take a position at East Arkansas Community College.

“I was elated to learn I was the selected candidate for the principal position at HCGC!” Cole said. “Honestly, I remember being a student at Marion Elementary School in third grade, eating my lunch on the concrete pad. Those days were beautiful, and those memories make working here day in and day out even sweeter. My love for Marion, Ark., is deep, and it's where I'll grow old. Being selected for this position is a true dream come true, and I look forward to serving HCGC in this new role.”

Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent, said he is excited for the future of HCGC under Cole’s leadership.

“We interviewed several outstanding candidates for the position,” Fenter said, “and while each would have brought unique strengths to the position, we ultimately felt that Shelbi’s combination of talent, skills, and longevity as an assistant principal made her the top candidate for the position. I am confident that she will keep the school moving in the positive direction it has over the past several years. I believe this change will create some wonderful new opportunities for HCGC, our students, and our district.”

A native of Marion and graduate of Marion High School, Cole has been with the Marion School District since 2008. After serving stints as a fourth-grade math and science teacher and as a math and science instructional facilitator, she became an assistant principal in 2016. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and an educational specialist degree from the University of Central Arkansas.

She said her time as assistant principal over the past six years has prepared her to become principal.

“Throughout my time at this school, I have worked steadfastly to establish myself as a thoughtful, considerate, and strong leader,” she said. “It has been important to me that the faculty, staff, students, and parents of this school see me as a resource, a listening ear, and compassionate leader for the students of Crittenden County.”

Cole said she is particularly excited to continue the shared leadership model that has guided the school’s work over the past several years. That work has included use of the “Leader in Me” curriculum, which builds leadership and life skills in students through a focus on the “7 Habits of Happy Kids.”

“As a graduate of Marion High School, this school and this community are beyond important to me,” Cole said. “This school educates my personal children, as well as more than 600 students and families that I care for deeply. I am truly honored to serve as the new principal at Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet.”

Sean Gray named assistant principal

Also Thursday, the Marion School Board approved the hiring of Sean Gray as HCGC assistant principal, stepping into the role vacated by Cole. A fellow longtime Marion resident, Gray has worked the past 12 years at Marion High School, teaching math and computer science. In 2017, he was the district’s Teacher of the Year, and in 2020, he was named Computer Science Educator of the Year for the entire state of Arkansas. In addition to his teaching duties, Gray has also been head tennis coach, assistant basketball coach, and, most recently, head softball coach, a position he held for the past six years.  

“The opportunity to join such an amazing school at HCGC, along with the dedicated teachers and faculty there, is what drew me to the position,” Gray said. “The faculty at HCGC have built a strong foundation for a wonderful school culture where students learn leadership skills, the importance of helping others around them, and a true passion for learning. My hope is to bring the passion and excitement for education that has been an integral part of my entire career and life with me to HCGC. Throughout my career teaching and coaching, I have led with a compassion and love for people, and I am excited to continue that as assistant principal.” 

The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit or call 870-739-5100.