A stellar year for Central

Central High School Principal Melissa Hensley chats with students inside the hallway of Central High School in May. She is a finalist for National Principal of the Year. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Central High School Principal Melissa Hensley has been named Virginia’s 2016 Outstanding High School Principal of the Year.

It’s been a banner year for the school, Hensley said this week.

“It’s been exciting to see the students and the faculty and our community rewarded for the hard work that’s been done,” she said. “Just to see people work really hard to bring a lot of new programs and bring energy into the building and to fine tune and refine and change what we’re doing teaching-wise and strategy-wise and implement new things and to see it work out like that.”

She added that the recognitions the school has received have given Central opportunities to collaborate in ways they couldn’t before.

In her essay submitted for the award, she included information on how she and her staff have tried to “build a climate of possibility” within the school and how they have pushed collaboration.

She has received a flood of congratulations from her staff, faculty, students and community members about her achievements at the school, she said.

When asked what she would share with state lawmakers about public schools, she said she would tell that funding is a critical way to improve the success of schools because “we can go so far on the funds that we do receive and I think funding does carry schools and programming.”

A change in graduation requirements is another change she said she would like to see implemented in the schools “to open up the box and allow kids to really explore the things that they want to really devote their passions and energy to.”

Hensley will be traveling to Williamsburg in June to receive her award at the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals 89th annual Virginia Middle and High School Principals Conference and Exposition.

The organization’s Principal of the Year award is  given annually to a principal who excels in seven areas:

•  Willingness to take risks to improve student learning.
•  Anticipates emerging problems and acts in effective ways to resolve them.
•  Moves actively to implement goals and objectives of the school.
•  Works collaboratively with teachers and other staff members to improve the educational programming and student achievement.
•  Ensures the school climate is positive and reflects high staff and student morale.
•  Involves the community in the life of the school and uses community resources for students educational opportunities.
•  Demonstrates creativity and imagination in bringing about positive change.

Hensley has served as principal of Central High School since July 2012.

In the past year, Hensley has led the school through various recognitions, including moving on to the next phase of a possible $10 million school reinvention grant through XQ Super Schools, being designated a 2105 National Blue Ribbon School for Exemplary Academic Performance and being recognized by U.S. News & World Report and NICHE.com as one of America’s Best High Schools.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com