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Watauga County Board of Education Honors School Principals

Pictured are Watauga County Schools Principals Patrick Sukow, Bonnie Smith, Patty Buckner, Elin Reuben, Gordon Prince, Scott Carter, Chris Blanton, Brian Bettis and Phil Norman. Not pictured is Tamara Stamey, principal of the new Watauga Virtual Academy.

The Watauga County Board of Education paid tribute to the work of school principals during its October meeting in honor of National Principals Month. Principals from each school were invited to the meeting to be recognized. 

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott and the board thanked principals for their multifaceted and challenging work that, Elliott said, had become even more vital over the course of the pandemic. 

“Principals are among the hardest working, yet often least recognized individuals in education,” Elliott said. “Principals set the academic tone for their schools, and it is their vision, dedication, and determination that provide the mobilizing force for achieving student success. Each October, we seek to honor these unsung heroes for their tireless efforts in pursuit of excellence in education.”

Elliott said one of a principal’s most-important roles in a school was as an educational leader.

“First and foremost, our principals are our school’s principal teachers —  the instructional leader of their schools. They model effective instructional practices, they lead professional development, they evaluate and mentor staff members, they hire the very best teachers they can find and then hold them to even higher expectations,” Elliott said.

Elliott said a principal’s role in a school was widely-varied and might look different each day of the week, but their work as administrators had expanded over the past two years as COVID-19 driven challenges and staffing shortages had widened the scope of their work.

“There’s never a time for one of our principals when they aren’t relied on to improvise and adapt to whatever might be going on in their buildings,” Elliott said. “But these last two school years have been something new altogether. From the beginning of the pandemic, our principals have stepped into every possible role at school.” 

Elliott said Watauga County Schools Principals had been instrumental in helping work in cafeterias and lunch rooms to overcome the immense challenge of keeping students fed as school closed to in-person instruction last year.

Elliott said that, since the onset of COVID, principals had served as substitute teachers in classrooms, covered bus routes for drivers and worked late to help cover custodial duties.

“I am so proud of the group of dedicated professionals who lead our schools everyday,” Elliott said. “It would be impossible to overstate just how much their work means to our school system.”

Over the course of October, Watauga County Schools will share information and photos of each school principal to highlight the work they and their passion for their schools. You can follow WCS on twitter at @wataugaschools or online at www.wataugaschools.org