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School Administration

Vanessa Ruffin, Principal

Mrs. Ruffin is a dedicated education leader passionate about fostering a culture of excellence and innovation in learning. With over 18 years of experience in education, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a commitment to creating a positive and nurturing school environment.

Mrs. Ruffin's journey in education began as a classroom teacher, where she developed a deep understanding of instructional practices and student needs. Her drive for continuous improvement led her to take on leadership roles, including team lead and assistant principal, before assuming her current role as a principal.

Mrs. Ruffin is known for her hands-on approach to leadership, often visiting classrooms, engaging with students and teachers, and participating in school events. She values open communication and believes in building strong relationships with parents, teachers, and community partners.

Mrs. Ruffin holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University, a Master's degree in School Administration from the University of North Carolina Pembroke,  Ed. S in Educational Leadership from Wingate University and is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program at Wingate University. Beyond her professional accomplishments, she enjoys spending quality time with her family.

Principal Vanessa Ruffin's leadership philosophy centers on inspiring a shared vision, fostering collaboration, and empowering all students and staff to achieve their highest potential. Her unwavering dedication to educational excellence makes her a driving force in TarHeel School's journey toward creating lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

Amanda Murillo, Assistant Principal

As a product of Bladen County Schools and the Tar Heel community, Mrs. Amanda Murillo has the pleasure to serve as an Assistant Principal for the 2022-2023 school year at Tar Heel School. 

Mrs. Murillo graduated in 2013 to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (K-6) from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  She also attended North Carolina Central University to earn a Master of Library Science (School Media Coordinator). Additionally, she recently completed the School Administration Add-On Licensure program at UNCP. She also holds a teaching license in English as a Second Language (K-12).

With 10 years of experience in the educational field, Mrs. Murillo has had the opportunity to teach 2nd grade, English as a Second Language (K-3), and Media (5-8). She has served as a Junior Beta Club Sponsor, Battle of the Books Coach, and Assistant Softball Coach at Tar Heel Middle School for the past two years. In addition to Bladen County Schools, she has also taught in the Public Schools of Robeson County.

As a lifelong learner, Mrs. Murillo’s hopes are that her efforts will inspire every student at Tar Heel to reach for the stars. At Tar Heel, ALL students will be able to acquire the life-long knowledge, skills, and values needed in order to make great contributions to their community and wherever life takes them.

Mrs. Murillo resides in Tar Heel with her husband, Andy, and two boys, Javi and Kobe. When not at Tar Heel School you can find her on vacation, at the gym, or at her family owned restaurant, The Log Cabin. 

Heather Thompson, Assistant Principal

Born and educated in Bladen County, Mrs. Heather Guyton Thompson is elated to be a part of PANTHER PRIDE, which is Tar Heel School. 

Mrs. Thompson graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2001 with a double major in English and History. After graduating, Mrs. Thompson returned to Bladen County Schools, teaching at Bladen/Elizabethtown Middle and Clarkton School of Discovery. During her time in the classroom, Mrs. Thompson served as Junior Beta Club Sponsor, NC Junior Beta Club State Sponsor, Athletic Director, School Improvement Chair, and cheerleading coach at the middle and Varsity levels.

After obtaining her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, she has held administrative roles at East Bladen High School and Clarkton School of Discovery.  

My passion is the students. Watching a student grow into a life-long learner is the greatest reward.  

Mrs. Thompson resides in Bladenboro with her husband, Patrick, their dogs Jackie Brown and Nick Saban (named after her favorite football coach), and numerous cats. She loves to dance and spend time at the beach.