There is a new administrator at Cople Elementary School. Previously an assistant principal at Christiansburg Middle School in Montgomery County, Virginia, Michael Bathgate, started his new position as assistant principal on July 1, 2020. He brings with him more than 14 years of teaching experience to our community.
A native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Mr. Bathgate had an unusual route to education. A mathematics major at Slippery Rock University, he started his career in business working at Paragon Asset Recovery Services in Pittsburg. Working at the Sylvan Learning Center and the Summit Academy Boys’ Juvenile facility in Pennsylvania made him rethink his career. After some intensive thought, he decided to go into education. Mr. Bathgate arrived in Virginia to be a math teacher in Spotsylvania County, then became the Dean of Students. He moved to Christiansburg Middle School as a middle school assistant principal. To be closer to family, his arrival at Westmoreland County was exactly what he was seeking. However, he still remains loyal to the Pennsylvania sports teams like the Steelers.
Mr. Bathgate has great respect for elementary teachers. When he was in the first grade, he came down with a condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. “It started as muscle weakness from my toes to my waist, and eventually became a paralysis from the waist down. I was paralyzed for about three weeks and could not attend school for six months, due to physical therapy and learning how to walk again. Once a week, my first grade teacher, Ms. Ross, would come to my house and work with me on my weekly assignments, always giving me positive, caring, upbeat feedback. But still with all the support she gave me, I was held back during my first grade year. Then I found out Ms. Ross would be my teacher for the next year. It was one of the best years of my academic life.”
In his short tenure with Westmoreland County, Mr. Bathgate is truly excited to be here. “Everyone has been so nice. Ms. Steele is an awesome leader. During the interview process with Dr. Perry, Ms. Steele and Ms. Rice, they made me feel very welcomed.”
“I look forward to learn the Cople way and getting involved in the community. This year will present a number of challenges. The biggest issue is the safety of the school, students, and the support of the community. Understanding the “new normal” and how it applies to Westmoreland County Public School is the tough part. But we will work through it. I think it is important for students to learn from each other. Bonding is such an important facet of education. I love public schools for their diversity.”
Married 15 years to his wife Susan, they currently live in Fredericksburg. He has two children, Samantha, age 7 and son, Hayden, age 5. They are all excited to begin this new chapter in Virginia and explore the treasures of the Northern Neck. He considers his time here to be a valuable step toward becoming a principal at a school in Westmoreland County.