By Meg Hibbert
Although he’s the one selected as Virginia’s Outstanding Middle School Principal of the Year, Jamie Garst believes the award is “more reflective of the wonderful people of Salem.”
The principal of Andrew Lewis Middle School was chosen by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, and announced in late May. He beat out 131 other principals for the honor.
Garst has also been nominated for National Outstanding Principal of the Year that will be announced in Washington, D.C., later this summer.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Garst said “I feel humble and grateful for the opportunities I have been given in life.”
Salem School Superintendent Curtis Hicks praised Garst, saying “You would be hard pressed to find anyone who invested more in Salem’s school children than Jamie Garst.”
Hicks continued, “He has earned the respect and the admiration of his colleagues and students with his selfless style of leadership, and it has been a pleasure to watch his development from a young chemistry teacher to a seasoned administrator. The division is very proud that he has been recognized in this manner.”
Garst is a 1999 Salem High School graduate who came back to teach chemistry and International Baccalaureate Biology at SHS after earning an Virginia Tech undergraduate degree in biochemistry, and a master’s in the same subject.
Garst began his teaching career at SHS in 2008. After earning master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction and a master’s in educational leadership from Radford, he moved over to Andrew Lewis as assistant principal in 2013.
He and his wife of 15 years, Sarah, have three young boys: Jackson, 10; Parker, 8, and Finn, 4.
According to a release from the VASSP, the organization’s mission is to support school principals and assistant principals in providing leadership to their schools and communities for the purpose of improving the education of Virginia’s youth.
The VASSP vision is to be the Commonwealth’s foremost authority on school leadership for Virginia’s youth.
- leadership in the areas of training and development for school principals and assistant principals and other school personnel that can contribute to the mission of VASSP;
- leadership in being a legal advocate for school principals and assistant principals;
- leadership in representing the interests of school principals and assistant principals before the Virginia Board of Education, the General Assembly of Virginia, the executive branch of government, and the media;
- leadership training for Virginia’s youth Student Leaders VASSP also promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character and leadership development, and physical well-being of youth.
The organization administers the Virginia Student Councils Association – the nation’s oldest state student council organization and the only Pre-k through 12th grade state council in the nation.
In addition, VASSP promotes the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society in secondary schools throughout Virginia. NHS/NJHS serves to honor students who have demonstrated excellence in areas of scholarship, leadership, service and character.