Principal of the Year encourages graduates

By Jeff Haney | May 07, 2013

Editor’s note: At Monday’s Partners In Education scholarship dinner, Central Haywood High School Principal Jeff Haney made the following remarks. He was named principal of the year.

Serving as principal of the year has allowed me to expand my professional learning curve this past year. It has been a journey that’s allowed me to work with excellent school leaders here in Haywood County. It allowed me to go to Raleigh and meet with other North Carolina principals of the year and address the North Carolina General Assembly where we voiced our thoughts and concerns on education inNorth Carolina.

By the way public education is not failing.

I served on the Haywood County Teacher of the Year selection committee where I observed teachers at every school. I observed elementary teachers teach. They loved, cared about and praised every student.

I saw middle school teachers that were phenomenal. I observed a media center setting that reminded me of moving through a major airport, everybody moving smoothly and with direction. The high school teachers that I observed were ensuring that every student had the knowledge necessary to be successful in their subject. One teacher decided that if I was part of the class, then I should take the test that measured their understanding. I turned my test in and I passed. My observations made me long to be a student again. It was an awesome experience.

I was part of a team that observed the design of school and how we could improve their operations. I went to Tuscola High and walked through the campus and I found one thing that stood out, I’m not sure if anyone else noticed but someone built a brick column that is not typical of other brick structures. This column is shaped like DNA helix. It is not square, it is twisted. The more that I looked at it, the more I was intrigued. What keeps it from falling over.

I realized that that this was not a mistake but purposely done. Here was a purposely built and designed structure that stood because it had a strong foundation. Kinda like us. Each brick is like our life experiences, one brick symbolizes first breath, learning to ride a bicycle, first fish caught, sports, academic success, first cell phone, first girlfriend or boyfriend, first kiss, first day of school, graduation. Life successes.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there was something special required to hold this brick structure together, mortar, the mix varies but it has the basic ingredients, lime, sanwd, water. This material is mixed together to hold the bricks together, your life experiences together. Your mortar mix includes those people that have made a difference in your life, held your life together, parents, grandparents, family members, friends, teacher, pastors, they all sprinkled in their love, sweat, tears of joy and sorrow. Your mortar is a vital part of why your foundation is strong.

I have two points that I would like for you to remember: “I am ready.”

Colleges and community colleges have subjects that are scary. There are professors that are scary, but your foundation is strong.


Give back to someone, be the mortar. Many people have given to you, many people have supported you, many people will continue to give and support you. Your brick column is growing and growing, give to someone else. Be the mortar that supports someone else.