Karen Auton, Principal

I am super excited to reunite with my Wildcat family.  As you may know, I served as assistant principal for almost two years at Draughn High school in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.  Prior to that I taught fifth grade Rutherford College Elementary for seven years.  Since my time at DHS, I have been fortunate to serve as principal of both Ray Childers Elementary and Drexel Elementary.  

I was born and raised in Burke County and graduated from Freedom High School (Don’t hold that against me; I now bleed black and gold!) My family and I live in the Drexel community where my husband, Matt, also serves the community as a law enforcement officer.  Our two girls, Ally, 10, and Macy, 8, are both future Wildcats and attend Drexel Elementary.  

As a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, I attended UNC-Asheville as an undergraduate student before I received both a Master’s of School Administration and an Education Specialist degree from Appalachian State University. I am currently working toward a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership through Gardner-Webb University.

In our spare time, my family and I enjoy bike riding at the greenway and playing family games.  All four of us love to cook and enjoy watching Chopped on Food Network.  

I feel blessed to serve as your principal and look forward to reigniting relationships with families in the DHS community.  


Dillon Sain, Asst. Principal/ Athletic Director

I am very excited to be back in the Draughn community. I started my education career at W.A. Young Elementary, before moving to Heritage Middle School for three years where I coached four different sports. I then moved to Freedom High School for two years. I obtained my undergrad degree from Appalachian State University in 2011 and Masters in School Administration from Gardner Webb in 2015. Fun Fact- I have a twin sister and a 3 legged dog named Sully.

Gretchen Reiss, Asst. Principal

I am looking forward to work beside Mrs. Auton, Mr. Sain, and the Wildcat faculty as an assistant principal. I am excited to continue to move Jimmy C. Draughn High School forward by doing what is best for students. Education was instilled in me at ​a ​young age and I always wanted to be a teacher like my mother. For most of my life, I have lived in Burke County and am a product of Valdese Elementary, Valdese Junior High and East Burke High School.  I graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1995 and completed my Master’s in Reading in 2000.  Currently, I am working on my add-on certificate for administration at Appalachian University​. My teaching experience has been at Drexel Elementary for over 22 years.

    My spoiled black labrador, Lincoln, and I enjoy long walks through Morganton, Valdese and the Greenway. More often than not,  you will find me pulling him out of the Catawba River! I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, watching movies, shopping and reading. I am thrilled to be part of the Wildcat family!​