Dr. T. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Parish Public Schools, is pleased to announce the 2020 Principals of the Year. The winners were chosen based on their continued commitment to academic excellence and increasing opportunities for students.
Representing Caddo Parish as Principals of the Year are:
*Lynette Hampton, Elementary School Principal of the Year, of North Highlands Elementary School*Tom Thomas, Middle School Principal of the Year, of Herndon Magnet School*Dr. Grady Smith, High School Principal of the Year, of Woodlawn High School
The winners will now advance to compete at the state level in the 2021 Principal of the Year competition conducted annually by the Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Association of Principals. State winners will be announced in July at the 14th annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration.
“The best principals lead by example and support their staff in ways that motivate and inspire,” Dr. Goree said. “I can confidently say these three principals surpass the expectations of what qualifies them to become principal of the year. They exemplify excellence and a commitment to grow themselves as much as their staff and students.”
Lynette Hampton, Elementary School Principal of the Year
Humble and quiet, Lynette Hampton is a leader who seeks to highlight her students and staff before herself.
Yet her servant heart and tenacity created a powerful combination and was a key to Hampton’s selection as the 2020 Elementary School Principal of the Year.
“I am blessed to be surrounded with the best team in the world and I am grateful for every opportunity I have been provided to make an impact,” Hampton said. “I love the children I serve and their success is what drives me to be the best I can be for them.”
Hampton began her school leadership tenure as the assistant principal of Ridgewood Middle School during the 2011-2012 school year. Hampton helped provide an environment of quality instruction and a safe environment. She also served as a summer school principal at Caddo Middle Career & Technology School in 2015.
More than ten years after her start with Caddo Schools as a teacher at J.S. Clark Elementary and with a proven drive toward student success, Hampton was selected to serve as principal of North Highlands Elementary School in 2017. In her tenure, North Highlands was named a Louisiana A+ Arts Integration School, a coveted recognition which interweaves the arts into all curriculum to enhance the learning experience. Additionally, North Highlands earned the distinction of Top Gains school by the Louisiana Department of Education for its ability to grow students.
Hampton holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in health and physical education from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge and a master’s in educational leadership from Louisiana State University Shreveport.
Tom Thomas, Middle School Principal of the Year
A product of Caddo Schools, Tom Thomas has long shown enthusiasm and a passion for the classroom.
Thomas’ desire to improve student learning opportunities took him to Paraguay where he taught for a year then back to Caddo Parish as a teacher including at Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle and C.E. Byrd High School. With a desire to affect more students, Thomas sought to move into administration and soon landed the role of assistant principal Herndon Magnet School. There he found home. After eight years as an assistant principal, in 2016 Thomas was presented with the opportunity to lead Herndon as principal.
“I learned under so many amazing educators and wanted to make sure I did everything in my abilities to grow Herndon and to let the community see what makes this school so special,” Thomas said. “I am grateful for every opportunity and have loved my time at Herndon and the work we do to benefit students. It’s all I could ask for and more.”
Thomas completed a bachelor’s degree in history and his alternative certification from Louisiana State University Shreveport. He went on to earn his master’s in school administration from Centenary College.
Dr. Grady Smith, High School Principal of the Year
Dr. Grady Smith is a second-generation educator with 20 years of experience teaching and in school leadership.
Growing up with his mother as a principal, Dr. Smith learned quickly of the long hours and late nights spent to support students and teachers. However, the love of education was in his genes from the beginning. Smith spent the early years of his career as a leader in Webster Parish Schools. From directing band to serving as an assistant principal then principal at multiple schools, Smith led the way to increasing productivity during academic hours and promoting an overall culture of academic success through strategic change.
Smith first came to Caddo Schools in 2014 as assistant principal at Woodlawn Leadership Academy. While there, he helped lead the way in turning around the school after more than a generation of failing status. After two years at Woodlawn, Dr. Smith desired to improve student outcomes for children coming into high school and became principal at Woodlawn’s feeder middle school Caddo Middle Career & Technology School in 2016. The Woodlawn hold wouldn’t allow Dr. Smith to stay away for long as he came back to Woodlawn as principal in March 2017.
In his time at Woodlawn, Smith has displayed a passion in bridging the gap between community and the school by assisting in lowering the rate of arrests, student suspension and expulsion. He takes pride in reforming efforts to engage the community in solving problems that impact student success. The results have been nothing short of astounding. Woodlawn most recently led the district in graduation rate growth with the school increasing by 12.4 percent. Additionally, Woodlawn is setting the pace for district growth year over year in student assessments.
“It’s a team effort,” Smith said. “This is a wonderful accolade but it isn’t just for me. It is for the team that’s been here not only today or yesterday but on the long road to turnaround whether that’s an assistant principal, teacher or other staff member. No matter where they are now, they have all played a role in our story and this honor.”
Smith holds a bachelor’s in secondary education from University of Louisiana at Monroe, a master’s of science in curriculum and instruction from Louisiana Tech University, master’s plus 30 hours, he attended the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at Harvard University and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Phoenix.