Garon Smail is entering his first year as principal at the Woodstock Union High School and Middle School. Prior to that he was principal of Woodstock Union High School for three years as well as associate principal for the school for four years. “My mom was a professional artist and she always taught me the power of criticism and critique. That’s how we grow, and that open communication—being able to interact and talk and hear things—is important to growth.” Garon works hard to be very accessible to students and parents and takes pride in things like not having voice mails piling up. “These things matter to me. I strive to be fast with a response.”
Garon grew up in Williston, Vermont, and attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, then spent the next 20 years living and working out West. “There are those who take positions working in high schools because they loved high school and those who couldn’t stand being in high school and return with an eye to redesign. A love of high school wasn’t what grabbed and pulled me into my path in education.” Garon worked in public policy and public lands, working with many subcontractors, and found his strengths were working with young people. He then worked in a variety of alternative education schools and programs before attending the University of Washington’s Masters in Teaching program. He taught AP social studies and says the driving thing was to educate and inform and to encourage students to be inquisitive, active people.
“That became my big vision—how can a school be structured so it empowers students?” He returned East to Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire and among other things, served on the community council, designed to create and modify school procedure as a representative body of 47 members that is student led and also includes members from the surrounding communities. He also established a student judiciary board for the school.
As principal (7-12), he provides oversight and is responsible for all programs and operations, provides educational leadership, strategic planning and implementation, supervision and evaluation of staff, and community engagement for the WUHSMS. “All roads end in my office. People want a principal to be accessible, but we can also be aware of the expertise that surrounds us. If there is a precise question, it may be better answered by someone else on the leadership team, or teachers or counselors. But my job is to focus on the strategic planning.” Garon lives with his wife and twin boys in Norwich.
University of Colorado, Boulder—B.A. Political Science/Geography; University of Washington, Seattle—MIT (Masters in Teaching) Secondary Social Studies; University of New Hampshire—CAGS School Administration
Favorite Food: I like to eat – I would be the easiest person to poison in the school because I never question the food that shows up on my desk. I just eat it.
Favorite Book: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
100 Amsden Way
Woodstock, Vermont 05091
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