BELRY, Ky. Matthew Mercer has been named the new principal at Belfry Middle School, replacing James Hurley. Hurley resigned after being named to the staff of Pikeville College by former governor Paul Patton. He currently serves as vice president and special assistant to Patton. Mercer was vice-principal at the school before accepting the principal position. A former student at Belfry High School, he says he feels he is a perfect fit for the job. Sixteen years after walking into Belfry High School as a ninth grader and meeting so many new people that would have such a profound impact on my life, I now have the opportunity to walk into the same building as principal of Belfry Middle School. A graduate of Pikeville College, Mercer has been in Education for 10 years - two at Phelps High School, five years at East Ridge High School and the past three at Belfry Middle. Mercers family is deeply committed to education. His father, James Mercer, is the principal at Elkhorn City Elementary, his mother is a retired guidance counselor, his sister Courtney is a teacher and coach at Pike Central High School and his wife Barbi teaches at Mullins Elementary School. The new principals philosophy toward his career is based on his belief that everyone can take advantage of education. Education to me is ones true opportunity to level the playing field, he said. It makes no difference your background, race, age, ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. In 2007, Belfry Middle School was recognized as a National Schools to Watch in Washington D.C. Mercer said the superior teaching staff at the school was responsible for that recognition. Our schools success is a testament to the single greatest group of teachers Ive ever came in contact with and the best students in the state of Kentucky. Mercer said he is glad to have the opportunity to remain in Pike County. Belfry has always been such a special place to me, and I have remained close to the community my whole life, he added.