Three educators have been named to fill principal posts in Abilene ISD elementary schools for the 2019-20 school year.

  • Keri Thornburg, currently principal at Bassetti Elementary, will move across town to become principal at Taylor Elementary. She replaces Lavon Burton, who is retiring.
  • Cecelia Zertuche, who previously served as an instructional coordinator and counselor at Bassetti, will succeed Thornburg. Zertuche is currently the assistant principal at Jackson Elementary.
  • Dawn Ripple, assistant principal at Ward Elementary, has been promoted to become principal. She succeeds Alison Sims, who earlier this month was named executive director of elementary education.

Thornburg has been principal at Bassetti for eight years and will arrive at Taylor in time to oversee the transition to a newly constructed campus set to open in August 2020. She has been with the district since 1995 as a teacher, instructional coordinator and principal.

“Mrs. Thornburg has done a wonderful job as the principal at Bassetti Elementary for the last eight years,” said Dr. David Young, superintendent. “I know that her veteran leadership will be a tremendous asset at Taylor. Keri is just the right person to lead the campus through the completion of the design, construction and transition processes for the new campus.”

Burton retires after 36 years in education, including the last four as principal of Taylor, where she attended school as a child and later was a Taylor parent for 10 years. She began as a math teacher at Abilene High School in 1981 and then was an instructor and director of the academic advance program at Abilene Christian University for 17 years. She returned to AISD in 2004 as an instructional administrator at Reagan Elementary, Cooper High School and Clack Middle School before arriving at Taylor in 2015.

Zertuche was a part of the Bassetti team for seven years prior to becoming an assistant principal at Dyess, Reagan and, most recently, Jackson. She began her career in 1994 as a teacher in Waco and also taught at Eula Elementary and Taylor Elementary before becoming a counselor and administrator.

Ripple’s educational experience includes more than 16 years of classroom teaching and as a special education provider in four different states. She has been part of the Ward family as a parent, volunteer, substitute teacher, special education teacher, instructional coordinator and assistant principal. She also taught kindergarten at Bassetti Elementary for a year and a half.