Central principal honored to represent state

Melissa Hensley

Central High School Principal Melissa Hensley is honored to have represented Central High School, Shenandoah County Public Schools and the state of Virginia as a national finalist for the Principal of the Year award.

Hensley was one of three finalists contending for National Principal of the Year, an award given by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Tom Dodd, of Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, was ultimately named the 2017 National Principal of the Year award this month.

Hensley also competed against Stephanie Johnson, of Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta.

Hensley said she was glad to meet Dodd last month at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Institute in Washington, D.C.

“He is very deserving of the award and I extend my utmost respect and congratulations to him on the distinguished honor (of) being selected as the recipient of the National Principal of the Year Award,” she said. “I am very proud of him and his accomplishments.”

Hensley said even though she wasn’t named the national principal of the year, the experience connected her with great administrators throughout the nation.

“I am humbled to be a part of such a prestigious and elite (group of) educators who are changing the face of education,” she said.

She added that the journey of becoming a finalist for the award “was truly one of the best experiences of my professional career.”

Hensley was also recently named Virginia’s Outstanding Principal of the Year.

Hensley added that Central High School is also no longer in the running for the $10 million grant, XQ: The Super Schools Project, headed by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The grant goes to selected high schools to reinvent education for the future.

Over 700 schools applied for the grant, including Central High School, with 10 schools receiving the grant.

The 10 recipient schools are:
• New Harmony High School of New Harmony, Louisiana.
• Furr High School of Houston, Texas.
• Grand Rapids Public Museum School of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
• Rise High School of Los Angeles.
• Powderhouse Studios of Somerville, Massachusetts.
• Brooklyn Lab High School of Brooklyn, New York.
• Design-Lab High School of Wilmington, Delaware.
• Vista Challenge High School of Vista, California.
• Washington Leadership Academy of Washington, D.C.
• Summit Elevate of Oakland, California.

Three runner-up schools will also receive funding. The Bartleby School, a project by Elizabethton High School will receive $200,000, as well as $1,000 in college tuition for students involved in the project. Iowa BIG will receive $1 million over five years, and Seminole County Public Schools will receive $1 million over five years.

Hensely added that Central High School will continue to raise the bar so all students are successful.

She said new initiatives for the school year will focus on phase one of a three-phase initiative to move to a 1:1 Chromebook environment.

“We will focus on effectively integrating technology into inquiry-based educational delivery models,” she said.

“Along with this initiative, staff will receive training around the concepts of authentic learning and inquiry so that this technology becomes a part of the culture, not just another disconnected tool.”

The initiative will allow students choices of assignments and favors projects and papers over tests and quizzes while giving students the opportunity to engage with what interests them.

“Led by our instructional collaborator team, we are in the beginning stages of brainstorming, adding an advisory period to our day so that all students have at least one adult that they have a relationship with.”

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