New Staff 2023-24

Asst. Principal Mr. Travis Eppleman works in his 3rd Floor office.
Asst. Principal Mr. Travis Eppleman works in his 3rd Floor office.
New Asst. Principal Has Military, Law Enforcement Background

Some say it is a tough job to be an assistant principal, having to always discipline students and carrying out school policy. However,  new assistant principal Travis Eppleman is used to dealing with tough characters. 

Before coming to Socastee, he was a Navy Corpsman with the Marines and also worked as a police officer for the City of Myrtle Beach for four years.

“I got out of the Navy and used my GI bill and went to school and went to college for education,” he said.

He started substitute teaching, but got into law enforcement because it didn’t pay enough.

“I had a family and had bills to pay so I got into law enforcement, but knew I always wanted to be a teacher,” said Mr. Eppleman, who has three kids under the age of 5.

Eventually he became a social studies teacher at Carolina Forest and was also a football coach there.

“I had some really good teachers and coaches in high school, and they had a huge impact on me, so I knew I wanted to get into education,” he said.

Mr. Eppleman has lived in many places. He grew up in South Jersey and is a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. Then, with the military he traveled  to Afghanistan, Haiti, Kuwait, Greece, Turkey, Bahrain, Dubai, and Spain.

“I went to so many places I would have never been to if I didn’t join the Navy,” he said.

Coach Gibby Now a Full-time Teacher, Too
Mr. Jeff Gibbins, aka Coach Gibby, teaches a grammar lesson in the special education room. (Chloe Levesque)

Mr. Jeffery Gibbins (aka Coach Gibby) is new to the special ed program this year, but he’s been a part of the school in other ways for years.

He has been a wrestling and football coach here for the past few years while serving as the lead Special Ed teacher at Socastee Middle School. He also was a student here in the 90s.

Now, he is a co-teacher for English 1, English 2, and social studies, working with “students who need just a little more help than other kids,” he said.

While in college, Coach Gibby majored in psychology, then earned his teaching certification later.

“In college, I was always good with kids and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I decided to become a teacher,” he said.

He enjoys helping students learn important skills they will need their whole lives.

“I chose to teach reading because you have to do it increasingly day by day, seeing how everything is on the computer or email, and that’s what the world revolves around.”

He also has always coached. He began coaching spring football conditioning in high school, and has been in various positions at the school ever since. Currently, he coaches the wrestling team and is the JV football coach.

“In college, I did wrestling, and when I became a teacher I thought I would be great at it,” he said.

New Social Studies Teacher Moves Up from Middle School
Mr. Robert Morales points to his class’ map projects. (Chloe Levesque)

Mr. Robert Morales, a new social studies teacher at Socastee High School, brings years of middle school teaching experience with him.

He taught at middle schools in Horry County for fourteen years – five at Conway Middle School, four at Whittemore Park Middle School, and five at North Myrtle Beach Middle School.

  “I have taught all three grade levels in the Middle School,” he said. “I switched because I always wanted to teach high school.”

One noticeable difference he sees between middle and high school is how high schoolers  have more freedom, he said. 

“You all go on your own to lunch, and we do not walk in a line to lunch and sit by class,” he said.

Mr. Morales grew up in Irmo, South Carolina.

“It was a great town to grow up in and had the Okra Strut,” he said. “The Okra Strut involved a Friday Night Street Dance, and then the next day a parade.”

He attended Dutch Fork High School, where he was in the musical. He was “not in a starring role, but did get to be on stage with a few lines,” he said. “I always thought being on the stage was an excellent experience.”

  Mr. Morales wanted to be a social studies teacher because of his passion for learning about the past.

“History was my favorite high school class,” he said. 

Sophomore Emmeline Hill, who has Mr. Morales for U.S. Government, says that she enjoys his class.

 “His classroom has a positive atmosphere,” she said.

Another student of his, Sophomore Ashlyn Bartelotte, also said she enjoys class.

“Mr. Morales knows how to teach and be a fun teacher all at the same time,” she said.

When he is not teaching, he is spending time with his family or exercising. 

“I like to run in my spare time,” he said. “My wife and two kids are also very important to me, so I like to spend time with them as well.”

Mr. Morales is ready to see how this year teaching at a new level unfolds.

“Now, in my 15th year of teaching, I have made it to Socastee High School and couldn’t be more excited for the year,” he said.

New Health Sciences Teacher Worked as Registered Nurse
Health Sciences teacher Ms. Noel Griffin poses with a skeleton in her classroom. (Chloe Levesque)

New Health Science Teacher Mrs. Noel Griffin comes to Socastee after working as a registered nurse for eight years.   

She worked as a nurse informaticist, working closely with administration, nursing staff, and IT to make sure that the software that was used for documentation met national standards including patient safety and revenue requirements. 

“I specialized in electronic medical record build, data and maintenance,” Ms. Griffin said. 

She was hired as part of a special program for people with industry experience, so she has a non-traditional teacher certificate.  

“You have to  go through a certification process known as DIRECT certification, which qualifies us to teach courses that are in CTE,”  she said. 

She said she switched careers to teach students about the medical field and give them a glimpse of what it’s actually like to work in it. Her goal is to get them excited for new opportunities and give them a chance to experience some of it starting young. 

“I was given the opportunity to teach at a time when I felt like I wanted to be a part of my community in a different way,” she said.

Mrs. Griffin is originally from Myrtle Beach and graduated from Socastee High School, then went to college at NC State University and the University of North Carolina. She moved back to Myrtle beach because she met her husband here and they both had great work opportunities here. 

“I always said I would never move back when I went to school, but we truly live in a great area with many wonderful people around us and I’m grateful for the life I live here,” she said. 

Ms. Griffin has a very busy life now, juggling the demands of a new job along with being a mother to a 2-year-old little boy. 

“I miss certain aspects of my last job as a nurse informaticist,” she said. “I had more flexibility in my work schedule working from home and I got to see my son a little more throughout the days.” 

However, she said she had a lot of encouragement to take on teaching as my new profession.
“I have family members in education who thought I would be amazing at it, and as I see it I would say it is going well so far.”

New Spanish Teacher Has Variety of Talents, Skills

Ms. Jonica Brown, a Spanish teacher here at Socastee High School, has had a non-traditional path to teaching. 

She does not have a teaching degree, but is pursuing one through the district’s alternative certification program. While she does not have her certification yet, she brings a variety of life and career experiences into her classroom.

The Conway High/ATA graduate was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” her senior year, graduated top 10 in her class, and earned a Cosmetology license. She also was involved in the Marching Band Dance Team, Drama Club, track and NHS.

After high school, she attended Coastal Carolina University, where she minored in Spanish and majored on Mass Communications.

“It’s important we have an understanding of the other people that make up the world population,” she said, “and we can’t do that if we can’t talk to them.”

Starting in high school, she was really interested in communicating through radio.

“I used to do a radio show for teenagers when I was in high school, and I did some on- campus things [with radio at Coastal],” she said. “But after graduation, I found my love in teaching, so I did that instead.”

She also has a passion for dancing and music. She works part time as a Ballroom and Latin dance teacher, and would love to start her own club one day.

“A couple of years ago, one of my good friends decided to open a company for choreography and asked if I would help him to come up with things for Quinceaneras and Sweet 16s,” she said. 

Someone who inspires her is Dolly Parton.

.“Miss Dolly is everything that I think small, petite, feisty women should aspire to be – very classy but yet so fiery,” she said 

She also admires Angela Bassett. 

“She is honestly just such a symbol of great power for women of color and just women in general.”

New PE Teacher is Socastee Alum

Ms. Brianna Harper is a new PE teacher, but a familiar face at Socastee. 

She has been the Bravette’s coach for the last few years and is a 2018 graduate. 

“I was a ‘free event coach’ prior, and I wanted to be more involved in the school and start my big girl job,” she said.

  Majoring in exercise and sports science at Coastal Carolina University where she was also on the Dance Team, Coach Harper did not expect to become a high school PE teacher. 

“I wanted to do physical therapy, specifically in pediatrics, because I knew I wanted to work with kids,” she said. 

Even though Coach Harper did not expect to work in a high school, she has been thriving at it so far this year, according to many of her students.

“She’s doing great, she’s very nice, she’s sweet, and she’s understanding,” freshman Tierra Dirks said.

Freshman Kyler Wethington enjoys the variety of activities and exercise opportunities provided in her class. 

“Coach Harper is a good coach, my favorite part of her class is playing basketball,” Kyler said.

Coach Harper aspires to be a strong role model for her students.

“When I was in high school, I didn’t have the best role models or examples, as far as college and after high school,” she said.

She hopes she can give students what she did not have while she was in school and provide them with someone to look up to.

“I would like to be that for someone else that might be in the same position I was in.” 

Coach Harper has already succeeded as a role model for many of her Bravettes.

“I’ve known Coach Bri since I was a freshman, and now as a senior I still love and respect her so much,” senior Laney Barno said. “She has taught me so much not just about dance but how to be the best version of myself.”

New English Teacher Brings Decades of Experience in Education

New English Teacher Ms. Lina Leonard comes to Socastee after teaching middle school. She is teaching Honors English 1 and English 2.

“I like teaching the students of all age groups, but here so far, the kids have been really great and supportive of each other, “ she said. “This is really great to see, especially since many are just meeting each other for the first time this year as there are different middle schools that feed into Socastee High School.”

Ms.  Leonard, who is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, made the move to Myrtle Beach in 2005. She was inspired to become an educator by a high school social studies teacher.

“I had a social studies teacher in high school named Mr. Schuler, who was just so

influential in my learning,” she said. “In high school, Mr. Schuler really held high expectations for all students, and also made sure to build relationships with all students;I wanted to influence students the same way that he did.” 

Before coming to Socastee, she previously taught 8th grade English at St. James Middle School and ESOL at Carolina Forest High School.

“Students in high school and middle school are similar in many ways,” she said.

“The age difference between the students I taught previously is only 1-2 years, so I am used to teaching from ages 14-16” 

Outside of teaching, Ms. Leonard enjoys spending time with her family by traveling. She has a son at Socastee and a daughter at AAST.

“We love going on cruises,” she said, “Sometimes we like going away,” obviously to Cleveland, and we’d go to Florida because I have family there.”

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