Central principal a national finalist

Melissa Hensley

Central High School Principal Melissa Hensley continues a pattern of success as one of three finalists contending for National Principal of the Year.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has named three principals from across the country as finalists for this title. Hensley is competing against Tom Dodd, of Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Stephanie Johnson, of Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hensley said she has been honored to serve as Central High School’s principal for the last four years.

“I have been fortunate to work with a dynamic group of educators who bring the passion, professionalism and perseverance necessary to continuously scaffold and reframe an innovative and dynamic learning culture that puts the needs of all of our scholars at the forefront of our learning culture,” she stated in a news release.

As a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School, she noted that Central High School represents one of many outstanding high schools in the state that offer “traditional and unique programming designed to meet the needs of today’s youth.”

In regard to her most recent recognition as a national finalist, she stated, “I am humbled and honored to represent all of Virginia’s amazing school administrators – administrators who work tirelessly to provide the framework for our students to be successful in their educational journey. They are all special people who do amazing work to make our scholars dreams come true. This is our award and this is our day.

“It is with great pride that I will represent the great work of the faculty and staff of Central High School, Shenandoah County Public Schools and administrators throughout the Commonwealth as a national finalist,” she added.

Hensley said she would like to thank the students, faculty, staff and the entire educational community for their “visionary approach to education.”

“I would also like to thank my family for their support as well as everyone else who has supported the work that we do at Central High School, and those who have guided and molded my development as a school administrator,” she added.

As a finalist, Hensley will complete the final steps in the selection process. Each national finalist is required to answer three addendum questions to their application by July 7.

Next, the National Association of Secondary School Principals professional development team will schedule a conference call with each finalist to learn more about the finalist, the school, the school teams and the community. That will take place on June 29.

She said participants of this call will include the school leadership team members, parents, students, business and community representatives and parent support group representative from the county.

Then, in-person interviews with the finalist will be held Sept. 1 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington. Following the institute’s wrap-up session on Sept. 14, all three finalists will join Amanda Karhuse, the group’s director of advocacy, at a meeting with staff at the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Principal of the Year will be announced in October at the school of the selected finalist.

Hensley was also recently named Virginia’s Outstanding Principal of the Year and was in Williamsburg this week to accept her award at the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principal’s 89th annual Virginia Middle and High School Principals Conference and Exposition.

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