National Principal of the Year is from Valdosta: Lowndes High School’s Wesley Taylor

Lowndes County High School Principal Wes Smith was named today national Principal of the Year

Lowndes County High School Principal Wes Smith was named national Principal of the Year

Wesley Taylor, principal of Lowndes High School in Valdosta is finding out about now that he has been named the 2011 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National High School Principal of the Year in a ceremony that includes  Speaker of the House David Ralston and School Superintendent Brad Bryant.

“I am honored to congratulate Wes Taylor as the 2011 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the year. Wes’ extensive career of furthering the education of Georgia’s children and mentoring young teachers has set an example for others both here in Georgia and across the nation,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “His dedication to enhancing the learning experience at Lowndes High School shows not only in their increasing graduation rates or AP participation; but in the strong relationship building and individual focus that truly helps students thrive.”

Here is the official release:

It’s hard to argue with Taylor’s success since becoming principal at Lowndes in 2003. The school has seen a 13 percent increase in graduation, and across-the-board double-digit increases in pass rates–some increases as large as 38 percent — on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests for various subgroups. Participation in Advanced Placement classes has nearly tripled under Taylor’s watch to 446 students in 2009, with similar increases in the number of students receiving a score of 3 or higher on AP tests. The improvements can be attributed largely to Taylor’s fostering a culture of collaboration among teachers and a college-going culture among students.

“Wes Taylor is the epitome of a team builder,” said Lowndes County Schools Superintendent Steven Smith. “Wes empowers others to assist him in the leadership of Lowndes High School. He sets high expectations for himself and he motivates those around him to aspire to the same lofty expectations. Wes shuns the spotlight and focuses the attention on his staff and students for their accomplishments.”

Taylor promotes a philosophy that all students “should fit into some niche” and that every student has the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with an adult, Smith continued. This has resulted in the creation of a nurturing environment that seeks to bring out the best in each individual student and staff member.

Taylor strives to make his large school of nearly 3,000 students feel small so every student feels recognized and respected. He provides each teacher a visual reminder of the importance of considering the needs of every student: a brick with the words inscribed, “Just another brick in the wall?” Teachers keep the brick on their desks and they report that it’s a powerful symbol that reminds them that, although thousands of students enter the school doors each day, each is an individual with particular strengths, needs, and areas for improvement.

“Personalization of the school environment is a cornerstone of NASSP’s Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement,” said NASSP Executive Director Gerald N. Tirozzi. “Under Wes’s leadership, Lowndes has become a model of such personalization–especially impressive given the size of the school. We’re proud to honor Wes as the new representative of and ambassador for the high school principalship.”

“We applaud Wes Taylor for his innovative methods to motivate teachers, challenge students and create a collaborative learning environment,” said Thomas G. Hogan, Jr., senior vice president and head of MetLife Resources. “His efforts are helping students to realize their potential and are creating a brighter future for the community.”

Taylor will be honored during an awards banquet on October 1 in Washington, D.C., to kick off National Principals Month. The national principal of the year search began in early 2010 as each state principals association selected its state principal of the year. From this pool of state award winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. A national middle level winner and a national high school winner were then selected. The middle level winner will be announced in a few weeks.

Taylor is the latest in a series of exceptional Georgia school leaders to be named national principal of the year. Previous winners include Sheila Kahrs, Haymon-Morris Middle School in Winder (2010); Mark Wilson, Morgan County High School in Madison (2009); and Molly Howard, Jefferson County High School in Louisville (2008).

The six finalists each receive a $1,500 grant. The two national award winners receive an additional grant of $3,500. Grants must be used in the school to improve learning (e.g. a special school project or professional development).

NASSP and MetLife are strongly committed to supporting the visions of unsung school leaders. Each year the MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year program focuses attention on the outstanding work principals do in middle level and high schools across the country. These individuals are recognized for their accomplishments as high-achieving principals, all the while making a daily investment in our children’s future. For more information about the MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year program and winners, please visit

33 comments Add your comment


August 26th, 2010
3:06 pm


But I suppose a very close scrutiny will now start. Is he going to be the next “miracle worker” to be a district superintendent somewher? The State DOE? US DOE?


August 26th, 2010
3:31 pm

Will there be a cheating scandal in his future?


August 26th, 2010
3:35 pm


August 26th, 2010
3:46 pm

Congrats to Mr. Taylor!


August 26th, 2010
4:11 pm

Congratulations! Good to see he is a Pink Floyd fan also….


August 26th, 2010
4:12 pm

Good for him! I’ll be he wishes he could do something about the parents of that place….by far the rudest and most obnoxious sports fans in the State!

South Ga Teacher180

August 26th, 2010
4:21 pm

they will mold him into a subservient do boy…do not take this accolade.

Sp Ed Teacher

August 26th, 2010
4:29 pm

There are plenty of good teachers–and some do become administrators. I remember the sign on the Principal’s door at the HS where I worked: Teachers–without them, you do not need me.

I trust he is a UGA grad – fan.


August 26th, 2010
5:08 pm

We had a principal like this out at Birmingham Falls ES in Fulton. The latest witch hunt forced him to resign a couple of days before school opened and when he didn’t do it fast enough, they fired him. More Cindy Loe and the Fulton BOE insanity….


August 26th, 2010
5:30 pm

First congrats to Wes on this most prestigious award….well deserved!

Second….for all the malcontents on this board….trust me…this man will not become a whipping boy or a “subservient do boy”. I grew up with this guy and trust me…he is is own man and doesn’t bend when he knows he is right.


August 26th, 2010
5:32 pm

Well, at least it wasn’t Beverly Hall getting another award for stellar performance :) Congratulations, guy…..

bootney farnsworth

August 26th, 2010
6:32 pm

its not a coincidence he isn’t part of the metro system.


August 26th, 2010
6:52 pm


But a little off-subject, did you notice it took the AJC a day and a little prompting to get Cynthia Tucker’s article about Beverly Hall on line. I finally agreed with her and was looking forward to telling her so, and low and behold, the comments were closed.

I am really starting to think there may be some arm twisting from above at the AJC. Also took Maureen a long time to post her column about the meeting w/ Hall.


August 26th, 2010
6:53 pm

Fultonschoolsparent – off topic, but you don’t know everything about that principal. I don’t know why he was forced out, but he made some terrible decisions that affected a subgroup of students in that school. I can’t say more, and I’m not defending Loe or the BOE. Trust me when I say that he knowingly chose to make some very bad decisions when the school first opened and treated some of us in the county horribly. He definitely did not have all of his students’ best interests in mind.

ann abel

August 26th, 2010
7:08 pm

congrats to wes! you are the best!

Ole Guy

August 26th, 2010
7:17 pm

That’s great! Now, tell me…do they hand out this award with the same aplomb as they do Teacher of the Year Awards? Hero today; Zero tomorrow. In all honesty, judging from the way Teachers of the Year Awards have been distributed in the past, one is not alltogether certain just how much credence the public should attach to any “achievements” of Georgia educators who win any “of the year” award.

Not to cheapen this honor, but judging from the manner in which recipients of any “of the year” awards have been treated, one must view this honor with a healthy dose of skepticism.


August 26th, 2010
7:23 pm

Congrats Mr. Taylor. One of the nicest people you will ever meet.


August 26th, 2010
7:54 pm

Congratulations, Wes Taylor.

say what?

August 26th, 2010
8:02 pm

Stay on point people. This is a positive story about a man and his good deeds. Plenty more times to complain and whine about what is wrong with ________ (fill in the blank with whatever).

CONGRATULATIONS MR. Taylor- great recognition.


August 26th, 2010
8:05 pm

Congratulations, Mr. Taylor!!


August 26th, 2010
8:29 pm


Maureen Downey

August 26th, 2010
9:11 pm

@Reality, Closing comments is usually the blog moderator’s decision and typically because she is going to be away from the blog for a while. That may be why comments were closed on Cynthia’s column.


August 26th, 2010
9:54 pm

After more than 30 years in GA I know there are great teachers and wonderful administrators everywhere. We just tend to focus on the screw-ups. Congratulations to him and a job well done.

All about timing

August 26th, 2010
10:52 pm

@Reality, Closing comments is usually the blog moderator’s decision and typically because she is going to be away from the blog for a while.

Usually though, don’t they post they post some words to that effect, to let the reader know what’s going on? And does anyone else sense that Tucker was engaging in a bit of revisionist history about her own advocacy of Hall? Not so much that she was inaccurate about referencing her previous statements about Hall, but very selective, especially about things that were ignored for years by the AJC editorial board.

bootney farnsworth

August 26th, 2010
11:14 pm

“a bit of revisionist history?”

how about a whole hell of a lot of it.

of course the moderator was gonna “happen to be away”.
CT is gonna get nailed hard on every side, and by the
time the smoke on this mess clears folks like her are
gonna need all the cover they can find.

36 years in education

August 27th, 2010
5:08 am

I’ve seen him at work– he’s a friendly, no foolishness, educator. He likes his students and he’s proud of his faculty. Georgia should be proud to have him represent us. He’s all about the work. Way to go, Mr. Taylor. Thank you for loving your job and doing it well.


August 27th, 2010
7:19 am

On Cynthia Tucker’s piece: High time. Whether you can fault Hall for the original cheating (I think you can), you can certainly fault her for wishful believing–someone with a PhD in education HAD TO HAVE KNOWN that the numbers were sprinkled with pixie dust. Not only that, but when called out she tried to continue the racial animus that dogs Atlanta, saying that people didn’t think “her kids” could score like that. In effect, calling those who questioned the data racist, while she apparently leads the pack in racism. Look at her incompetent cronies, look at the fact that she apparently doesn’t think “her kids” can make the grade without help.

I also fault the business “leaders” because none of them seemed to have the (courage) to ask questions.

Ms. Hall should be summarily dismissed with no termination pay, as she violated the moral turpitude clause. In addition, the bonuses she got should be returned voluntarily; if not, a suit should be filed for their return. Finally, she and all her minions should be investigated for their complicity. If any complicity is found,they should be arrested.

I believe we should treat Ms. Hall as any other employee should be treated. In fact,more so as she profited by these acts and SHE HAD TO HAVE KNOWN BETTER!


August 27th, 2010
9:28 am

Nothing says Principle of the Year like a well quaffed mustache.

Ole Guy

August 27th, 2010
11:09 am

Say What, your point is well-taken. No one likes to pee pee on one’s parade, however, we must, while celebrating one’s achievements, take a few moments to examine just what these achievements mean and, in a broader sense, just how we honor those who have won such acolades. We are certainly all-too familiar with the stories of recipients of such awards who, only a short time later, are dismissed with non-performance evaluations. If one, while celebrating such achievements, does not, at the same time, question the very meaning of these awards, one must surely have one’s head buried in the sands of complacency…”Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play”?

If we choose to ignore the realities about us and simply marvel at the glitter, we, in the end, richly deserve what we get.

That being said, congrats are in order!


August 27th, 2010
2:06 pm

catlady – “sprinkled with pixie dust” remark was excellent. Thanks for a phrase I will be able to reuse.


August 28th, 2010
8:37 am

Congratulations Wes. I’m a cynic, so take my words from that. I work in the school system, and have seen what a great job this man has done since becoming principal of a HUGE school. He is honest, good to the students, open about all policy, treats all employees fairly and well, promotes volunteerism in staff and students, keeps parents involved and aware of what is happening in the school.
I’m normally one of the first ones to react like some of the people here who want to question accolades & look for “the truth.” So believe me when I say that you are looking at the truth. I know it’s hard to believe in this day and age that there is actually an administrator who is just a good person doing a good job, but here you go. That’s what he is.

The responses on this board to this article have taught me to not be so negative and cynical. The world is a harsh place, and not everyone is what they appear to be, but maybe we should give someone the benefit of the doubt before assuming the worst about every single person before they’ve even done anything to question.


August 28th, 2010
1:03 pm

Georgia’s on a roll, apparently, with some excellent principals rising as cream to the top. Centennial High’s new principal, Steve Miletto, was a finalist (one of three) for this award last year.

Congratulations to both – and best wishes.


August 29th, 2010
6:33 pm

There are teachers who shouldn’t be in a class room.
How they got a degree was not base on they’re grades. I very rarely hear about the parents,
most want their kid to have a good education, not get pregnant, get hook on drug or join a gang or get kill while they’re are in school
and the students most of them want an education.
The only problem is the smart ones are held back because the system is gear more for minorities, or have two type of standards, which doesn’t help anyone, who really want an good education.
In other countries, intelligent is rewarded, the slower learners are helped, to make a good living, by going developing their ability. This country wants the slower learners, or everyone to be equal, which doesn’t work in education. How about the parent, who will fight the school when her or his kid for getting in a fight, but won’t give give their kids hell for making bad grade, skipping school, taking drugs, for not doing their homework. There are parents who love driving the race card, and try to justify why they do the things they do. Yes, the school system in this country as about as screw-up as you can get, and the system needs cleaning, this includes Colleges and Universities. It’s time to stop using the term politely correct, to make things worse. Learn to speak English the correct way.