LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ballard High School's site-based decision making council voted unanimously 5-0 to select Staci Eddleman to be the school's next principal during a special-called meeting on Saturday.

Eddleman has been the principal of Westport Middle School since 2010, prior to that she was an assistant principal at Ballard for nine years. She was also a principal intern at Atherton High School during the 2006-07 year.

The SBDM decision to select Eddleman still has to be finalized by Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens, that move should happen early next week.

"Dr. Eddleman is a wonderful leader and has a proven track record," said Lynne Wheat, an assistant superintendent in JCPS who served as chairwoman of the hiring committee at Ballard. "She has done marvelous things at Westport and we know she will do marvelous things at Ballard."

Ballard, located in eastern Jefferson County, has an enrollment of about 2,000 students. 

In an interview with WDRB on Saturday, Eddleman was emotional and said making the decision to apply for the top job at Ballard was among the "hardest decisions I've made in my career."

"It's not that I want to leave Westport at all -- I am fully invested in the students and staff there and I will always be their biggest supporter," Eddleman said. "This is an opportunity that I had to pursue. I am thrilled that Ballard has chosen me to be the next principal."

Once approved by Hargens, Eddleman will be only the fourth principal in Ballard's history. The school opened in 1968; Patrick Crawford, Sandy Allen and Jim Jury are the three others who have served as principal.

"It's a school filled with lots of tradition and has wonderful students, teachers and staff," Eddleman said. "I'm excited about this opportunity."

Many of the students who attend Westport live in Ballard's resides area, which means they will see a familiar face if they choose to attend Ballard.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the students I already know, as well as meeting the others that I don't know," she said. 

Ballard has been without a principal since mid-January when Jury was tapped to be the principal at Louisville Male High School

During her time at Westport, Eddleman helped start the school's popular Montessori magnet program, which began in 2010 with 50 students in one sixth grade class after the school board voted to designate Westport as the district's only middle school with such a program. The move was in response to the district's popular Montessori programs at Coleridge Taylor and Kennedy elementary schools.

Five years later, the program has grown to more than 200 students and Eddleman says she has had to turn students away because the number of applications exceed the number of seats available.

Wheat said the district knows the value and popularity of the Montessori program at Westport and is confident it will continue.

"It is a very vibrant program and has been effective and successful," Wheat said. "I can't imagine we would do anything to hinder that growth."

Eddleman is a graduate of Seneca High School in Louisville. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kentucky and her doctorate from New York University. She lives in Louisville with her husband and two children. 

Wheat said once approved by Hargens, the district will work with both Westport and Ballard to ensure a "smooth transition."

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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