CHS principal named state’s best

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals has given a Shenandoah County principal its top distinction.

The group named Melissa Hensley, principal of Central High School in Woodstock, Outstanding High School Principal of the Year during the group’s annual conference in Roanoke last month. Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley said the school division nominated Hensley earlier this year.

“She went through a rigorous application process,” he said. “They narrowed the applicants down and did the interview. We’re fortunate they selected her.”

The VASSP is a Richmond-based advocacy and outreach group for middle and high school principals and assistant principals.

Hensley, 45, is finishing her fourth year as principal of CHS. She said the award’s requirements include demonstrating creativity in decision-making and taking risks to improve education, including implementing project-based learning in classrooms.

“Anything new may seem weird when we’re already successful,” she said.

Hensley will be recognized at the VASSP’s annual conference in Williamsburg in June. She will also compete for the group’s national High School Principal of the Year award in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

Hensley’s distinction continues a banner year for the school. In September, the U.S. Department of Education named CHS one of 335 Blue Ribbon Schools across the country for its high Standards of Learning marks and graduation rate.

Additionally, the school was named one of 348 semifinalists named in XQ: The Super Schools Project last month. The project, which is funded by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, will award $2 million grants to five schools with the best ideas of what a 21st-century education should look like.

Hensley said she hasn’t seen anything like this school year in her more than 20 years in education.

“This year has been like no other,” she said. “It’s really exciting because the things we have received reflect the team atmosphere here, from the teachers to the staff to the community.

“The big picture here is the things we’re doing are working,” she said.

Raley said he and the division are proud of Hensley’s “tremendous accomplishment” and of what the school has achieved this school year.

“They’ve really worked to provide students the opportunity to be successful after they leave school,” he said.

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